Covid still dominates the health agenda, but two years of living in a pandemic has taken its toll. So, with the New Year approaching, might it be worth checking out our general health?
Punishing clichÃ©d resolutions is really not the recipe we’re trying to achieve right now. Instead, we asked experts to discuss seven key areas for a head-to-toe health appeal for 2022 …
1. Do you sit too much?
Many of us are more sedentary today than ever – and that is a big concern. âSitting too much and poorly sitting lead to bone loss and muscle weakness, which lowers the metabolism and impairs blood sugar regulation,â says psychologist and personal trainer Suzy Reading, author of the new book Sit To Get Fit.
“Sitting reduces blood flow, decreases the availability of nutrients and oxygen, and hinders the removal of waste products, leading to swelling, stiffness, and pain in muscles and joints.” Then there are the effects on our mood, digestion, energy, and pain Tension through crooked and ‘tech neck’.
Reading says that we âneed a plan of action that can improve our posture when sitting, standing and movingâ and âcan break up sedentary phases of joyful movement. Take stock of all the seats and make sure you have good support, âshe suggests.
âListen to your body – if you feel uncomfortable, what can you do to improve your setup? Set your intention to get up every 30 minutes and write down an “exercise menu” for easy inspiration. It can be enough just to get up from your chair and shake yourself up. “
2. Do routine examinations have to be carried out?
Thousands of medical appointments have been canceled since the pandemic began and many of us have defaulted on routine checkups. But as Dr. Stephanie Ooi, GP at MyHealthcare Clinic in London, says, âRoutine checks and screenings are really important. With smears and mammograms, they can detect abnormal cells early and before the cancer can spread. If you have a disease that requires regular monitoring, such as: For example, diabetes, checkups are key to preventing your condition from leading to other problems.
âIf you’re invited to a routine appointment, make sure you attend,â urges Ooi. “Or if you think a screening test is due, see your GP.”
3. Have you ignored little things?
If you put off your GP and ignore trifles, you should also take the advice of Dr. Ooi heeded: âThe health system is under enormous strain, but family doctors are still very well represented. It can be easy to think, ‘Oh, I don’t want to bother anyone,’ but if you’re worried, pick up the phone. “
This is especially important when you have potential red flags. “If you notice any worrying changes – such as lumps, bleeding, unusual pain, persistent non-Covid cough, unexplained weight loss, etc. – don’t hesitate to make an appointment.”
4. Could sleep be a higher priority?
“We have evolved into a culture where we fill all hours of the day with activity, with sleep the first thing sacrificed when time is short,” says Samantha Briscoe, senior clinical physiologist at London Bridge Hospital (part from HCA UK). . The added anxiety of the past few years didn’t help – but sleep really does contribute to our overall health.
âWhen we sleep, we give our body and mind time to recharge. A good night’s sleep also helps the body stay healthy and supports the immune system, âsays Briscoe. âWithout enough sleep, the brain cannot function properly. Poor quality sleep can also affect our body weight, as changes in the appetite regulating hormones mean that we are more likely to consume excess calories and exercise / burn less. “
Sleeping well is “the key to better physical and mental health,” adds Briscoe. âConsistency is crucial – sticking to a regular sleep schedule. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, reducing caffeine and exercising regularly can improve the quality of our sleep. “
5. Do you get enough time outdoors?
Staying home was a big part of the pandemic, but spending time outdoors is really a tonic. “Any form of physical activity is great, but I advocate walking because it has the potential to combine multiple wellness practices,” said Wendy Nicholas, a member of the Counseling Directory.
“Your brain loves fractals, the geometric shapes of nature, so much that they stimulate the parahippocampus, which is involved in regulating emotions and helping us produce more feel-good brainwaves,” adds Nicholas. âIf you can manage your morning walk and it is longer than 20 minutes, you will be exposed to the sun’s rays, which will help set important circadian rhythms and promote better sleep. Finally, when you combine your walk with a friend, there is a daily dose of compound, [which] contributes to general physical and mental health. “
6. What are your coping strategies like?
“When we’re under pressure, we all have the potential to turn pretty much anything into an unhealthy activity,” says Nicholas – and the pandemic has certainly put pressure on it. Things like drinking, compulsive and disturbed eating, gambling, etc. may have crept in. It is important to check in with yourself and seek support – be it from your family doctor, paid therapy or hotlines. And even âhealthyâ practices can have a turning point, Nicholas notes.
“I was contacted during the lockdown by someone who said they had a schedule of activities,” recalls Nicholas. âThey started by losing an hour of sleep, getting up early and exercising, meditating, cooking a nutritious breakfast, and so the day went on – while they looked after children and worked.
âWhen I asked why they had embarked on what appeared to be a punishing schedule, I was ashamed when I told them they heard I recommend these things! Now, I’ll make sure I emphasize that compassion is the key part of self-care.
âIt is natural to want to avoid discomfort or suffering at all costs, and this is where many coping strategies get sour. They become numbing activities rather than compassionate responses to our needs. I often ask clients to practice every day, maybe two or three times, stop, put their hand on their chest and ask, What do you need now? Sometimes this question reveals a very physical unmet need, for example to eat or drink. Sometimes the answer can be a deeper psychological need, such as not feeling lonely. When we ask the question and feel the answer, we have a choice of how to respond more effectively. “
7. Is it time to see a dentist?
Unless you have had a dental emergency, visiting the dentist may not have been a priority for the past two years – but it is important not to wait too long for routine checkups.
“Dentists are trained to look out for a range of health problems, including early signs of cancer of the mouth and jawbones,” says Dr. Azad Eyrumlu from leading private dental company Banning Dental Group. âIt is always a race against time to detect, diagnose, and treat oral cancer. The success of any treatment depends on how early it is diagnosed.
âIn the meantime, gum disease can increase your risk of all kinds of other health complications, including stroke, diabetes, and heart disease. These are just some of the reasons why a visit to the dentist is important. “