WHAT'S REALLY IMPORTANT
We all intuitively understand the importance of good health to our ability to enjoy life and have a productive career. The better your mental and physical wellness, the higher your energy level, productivity and capacity to perform in whatever role you choose. Since this is so obvious to all of us, it is amazing how few people actively follow a healthy lifestyle.
There are a large number of factors causing health problems all around us — stress at work, demands at home, and pressure from your peers as well as advertisers constantly urging you to eat, drink and smoke something that is probably bad for you. On top of this, we are subjected to an increasing bombardment of “noise” and information overload from all types of media and other sources, including personal computers, e-mail, cellphones and a myriad of new handheld electronic devices.
News flash! You have to fight back and take active responsibility for your own mental and physical wellness. You must find the determination within yourself to make healthy habits an essential part of your daily and weekly routine. It is foolish to take a passive approach to maintaining your health and fitness.
To enjoy both mental and physical wellness, follow these recommendations:
In many respects, “you are what you eat”. The quality, variety and quantity of what you eat on a daily basis have a huge impact on your overall wellness, including your mental agility and energy level. Here are some easy steps to follow for a healthier lifestyle:
For many reasons, it is also important to stay hydrated throughout the day. This requires you to drink a minimum of six to eight glasses of water and other fluids daily apart from anything that is high in caffeine, sugar or alcohol. Carbonated drinks, coffee, beer, wine and any mixed liquor drinks do not count. Watch out for the calories, however, in any fruit and vegetable drinks.
To function effectively, your body needs to maintain proper fluid levels. Recent studies indicate that up to 85% of headaches are caused by dehydration. Proper hydration also can lower or even eliminate pain and cramping.
Changing your eating habits is the only permanent solution for dealing with an overweight problem. Close to 100% of the people who lose weight through any kind of diet program or taking diet supplements invariably regain all of the weight back. To lose weight you have to eat less. It is that simple.
To gain an appreciation of the stress that being overweight places on your body, try carrying around a weight in your hand roughly equivalent to how much you are overweight. If you are ten or more pounds overweight, you will not last long doing so.
Here are some of the most important steps to take to shed unwanted pounds and then to maintain your weight at a healthy level:
Change how you think about food if you have a weight problem. As the photographer Russ Fischella said, “Eat what your body needs, not what your mind wants.” If you are overweight, do something about it. Being in denial when you have a weight problem is definitely dangerous to your health and overall well-being.
The most common health complaint is probably, “I’m having difficulty sleeping and it’s badly affecting my … .” Everyone seems to know that getting a full night’s sleep on a regular basis is essential to maintaining one’s overall wellness, recharging one’s batteries, and performing well at whatever one does. Yet, for some mysterious reason people prefer to spend billions on sleeping pills (that rarely work that well) rather than adopt sensible sleep habits.
There is a big downside to failing to get an adequate amount of sleep on a regular basis. As journalist Jane E. Brody stated in a recent New York Times article, failing to do so at any time in one’s life from infancy to old age “can profoundly affect memory, learning, creativity, productivity and emotional stability, as well as your physical health” and cause harm to a number of bodily organs and systems, including “the heart, lungs and kidneys, metabolism, immune function and mental processes” (such as judgment and decision making).
The actual amount of sleep one needs varies depending on one’s health, age, daily physical pursuits and occupation. Most adults need a minimum of six to eight hours sleep nightly. Some people also benefit from having an afternoon nap. But for everyone, Arianna Huffington believes that “the way to a more productive, more inspired, more joyful life is getting enough sleep”.
Sleep researchers have discovered that each night we cycle in and out of various stages of light to deep sleep, each lasting about 90 minutes. Brody describes these stages as “REM, or rapid-eye-movement sleep (often called dream sleep), and three types of non-REM sleep: the light sleep of Stage 1, followed by the more relaxed sleep of Stage 2 and the most restorative deep sleep of Stage 3”. When you are in Stage 2 and 3 sleep, your mind is probably quietly sorting through and filing away all the information and thoughts you experienced in the waking hours of the prior day. This is also when your mind likely does its best cognitive work, hence the saying “sleep on it”.
Yes, high stress, negative relationships, being in debt, the demands of parenting, travel and illness can all impede one’s ability to sleep properly. But, there are many simple things you can do to improve your chances of having a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. Here are some recommendations for doing so:
If you find that the above steps do not improve your ability to enjoy a good night’s sleep on a regular basis, you probably need to consult your doctor to determine if you have some type of serious sleep disorder.
If you find yourself with a health condition requiring major treatment, strong medications or an operation of any consequence, it is important to make sure you comprehend the ramifications of what your doctor is recommending before agreeing to proceed. It is also extremely helpful to bring a friend or family member with you when you meet with your doctor to hear his or her diagnosis or recommendations for dealing with your situation. Such a person can assist you to obtain a clear understanding of what’s involved and to make the best decisions given your circumstances.
In these cases, specifically ask your doctor the following questions about any proposed serious treatment or operation:
Finally, recognize that surgeons almost always recommend surgery. Obtaining a second opinion from another doctor regarding the need for any major surgery is always a good idea.
Exercise some caution with all medical, health and fitness information you obtain online. Check the source of any such information. Is it from an accredited organization, preferably one that is linked to an academic journal, government agency or reputable health and fitness professional organization? Is the website or other source impartial or is it sponsored by the maker of a product who has a vested interest in this subject? Also, keep in mind that the effectiveness of any medical advice or treatment can vary greatly from one person to the next.
Similarly, hold off on accepting the results of any reported new medical or health studies as being necessarily valid. In a March 15, 2017 article, Fortune Magazine disclosed that only 48.7% of health and medical studies reported in newspapers were later confirmed by broader research. Fortune also found that newspapers largely ignored studies that failed to produce positive results. Only 5.1% of studies covered by newspapers had negative findings.
Pedestrian deaths account for 16% of traffic fatalities in the U.S. A significant number of these is caused by “distracted walkers” crossing streets, walkways and crosswalks when they are engrossed in reading, texting or talking on some electronic device. The same applies to listening to music with buds in both ears. Doing so puts yourself at high risk of personal harm.
There’s a reason you’ve been told to always practice defensive driving whenever you’re at the wheel of a vehicle. Traffic is unpredictable. Without warning, there will always be the occasional driver who fails to observe traffic lights, stop signs or the rights of pedestrians at crosswalks. Plus, there still is a high occurrence of “distracted drivers” who make mistakes as a result of using a mobile device while driving. They forget that every vehicle is a potential fatal weapon and that accidents can happen in a split second.
So, unplug from your mobile devices when you’re walking anywhere. Practice heads-up walking. Don’t count on drivers always doing the right thing. There will be times when your life could depend on that.
Your objective should be to develop a set of healthy habits that you follow throughout your life. You simply cannot afford to take your mental and physical wellness for granted. You have to assume the responsibility for keeping yourself in good health. Now!
For more information on dealing with stress, see Chapter 18, Handling Stress, and Chapter 28, Need for Balance, in the Citizen of the World Guide, Secure the Job You Want & Excel.
Medical and Health Info
Reading and Texting While Walking