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Put your health on your list of priorities

by Liz Marchant

Whether we like it or not, women tend to be good at multi-tasking. Balancing kids, relationships and work deadlines can be a full-time load. Which means that more often than not, our health doesn’t make the cut.

While most of us care for the health of others (children, aging parents, spouses etc), it’s easy to push our own needs aside, meaning many of us don’t consider our health until something dramatic happens.

While keeping busy may be good for us on many levels, it’s important to take a step back and consider how we’re feeling in our bodies and minds. After all, we’ve only got one body, so we need to take care of it. Investing in our health is key to being happy and successful, and ultimately in looking after our family. Therefore, we must break the cycle of ignoring our own needs and put our health back on our priority list.

There are many things we can do to stop the cycle:

Healthy food choices

We’ve all heard the adage that you’re only as healthy as the fuel you put into your body. The impact on your overall health from making better food choices can’t be overlooked. Not only will you feel better from within, you’ll have more energy to take on your day.

A cost- and time-effective way to ensure you’re making healthy food choices is to cook in bulk, also known as meal prepping. Putting aside two to three hours on a weekend to prep meals for the week (or two) ahead means you don’t have to worry about dinners, lunches, or even snacks during the week. This reduces the chances that you’ll make less healthy choices in the pressure of the moment, as an added bonus it’s also great for your budget too.

If your schedule doesn’t allow for batch cooking, consider looking into healthy food delivery services. Although less budget-friendly than batch cooking, these services can fit around your schedule to deliver ready-to-eat healthy meals to your doorstep, keeping you on track without requiring as much effort from you.

Optimal sleep levels

The average amount of sleep recommended for adults is around eight hours. While everyone is different, there’s endless information out there that can help you understand how to optimise your sleep levels to reduce fatigue. As a general guide if we feel like we need to rest, we probably should.

Taking a break

It’s important to take some time to yourself to relax and unwind from the demands of everyday life. Prioritising some ‘me-time’ can be as anything from a soak in the tub, to reading a book, or investing in some meditation. Incorporating these activities into your schedule to focus on nourishing your mind as well as your body can benefit you greatly, reducing your overall stress levels and improving your mood.

Exercise regularly

Making time to exercise is very important, as it makes you physically fitter and healthier and also improves your mental health and general wellbeing. It is recommended to get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week and there are no limits on the type of exercise you can do. It’s important to choose something that works for you and your body. If the thought of running on a treadmill for hours on end fills you with dread there’s no need to torture yourself, look for something that lights you up, maybe it’s group activities like dance classes, karate or volleyball can be a fun way to get fit while learning a new skill in a social setting, maybe it’s walking with a friend.

While making a plan to exercise is relatively easy, sticking to it can be difficult when life gets in the way. One way to overcome this is to schedule exercise in your diary and treat it like a meeting. You wouldn’t miss an important meeting at work, so applying this same discipline to your exercise regime can help you avoid making excuses.

Drink plenty of water

Often overlooked as a vital part of staying healthy, water helps out your kidneys and metabolism, improves your focus and reduces fatigue, along with many other benefits. The recommended amount of water for adults is nine to 13 cups a day, so bottoms up! Get in the habit of carrying a water bottle with you at all times to stay hydrated. You can also try infusing water with different flavours to keep things interesting if the taste begins to bore you.

Annual health check-ups and six-monthly dental checks

It’s important to visit your doctor to have regular check-ups, especially to check your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. When you see your doctor regularly, they can detect problems before they even start and discover active problems early when your chances of treatment and cure are stronger.

Similarly, you should visit your dentist twice a year to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Getting your teeth checked and cleaned is very important and can let your dentist detect problems early, which can prevent diseases in the mouth.

Accessing regular health services is a proactive way to take the right steps to live a longer, healthier life.

Invest in your relationships and mental health

Last but certainly not least, it is important to take care of your mental health. One way of doing this is by investing in your relationships. Social relationships are integral to physical and mental health and help us live longer, happier lives. While it may seem at different periods in our lives like a luxury, it’s crucial to invest in maintaining positive social relationships to protect our mental health and wellbeing at every stage in life.

You can improve the quality of your relationships by making time to connect with others and remain present in the moment. Actively listening to those you care about can lead to developing deeper, more meaningful relationships that support each other. Connecting with others for a healthy headspace is often a neglected form of self-care, but it’s important to remember that healthy, supportive relationships protect our bodies and minds, so nurturing them should be a priority.

Improving your overall health is not a one-step process. If you are serious about making your health a priority, you must invest lots of time and effort making changes to your daily routine that can positively benefit your health and wellbeing. With the huge variety of ways to improve your health, you can start slow and incorporate a couple of activities at a time to bring more harmony to your life, leading you to become a happier, more well-rounded person.