There are many ways to ensure your own well-being, a mix of common sense, folk wisdom, and up to date scientific information. You can start by setting priorities.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
Here are some of the most important things you can do to enhance your health, These hints, which are drawn from topics throughout the website, illustrate how diverse are the ingredients of a healthy life. See the box below for measures that can save your life.
Eat not just to satisfy hunger but to be as healthy and vigorous as possible (see ‘Eating for Good Health‘).
Pray or meditate, or simply learn how to relax. People who habitually take time for quiet contemplation and spiritual renewal gain the additional benefits of lessened stress and a lowered heart rate.
Be sociable. Talking with a friend or relative can do a lot to relieve stress.
Install and maintain smoke detectors. Most deaths from fire occur in the home. You can reduce your risk by installing smoke detectors, one outside each bedroom, and an additional detector on each level of the house (see ‘Fire Safety‘).
Check the location of the exits whenever you go to a restaurant, theater, hotel, or another public place. Fires create panic and confusion; you can save precious minutes if you have already observed the quickest way out.
Learn to control your anger and discharge it appropriately. Venting your anger at your family will only create bad feelings and make your home life worse. Remember that chronically angry people are at greater risk for heart disease than calmer folk. Hiking, jogging, and swimming can help to dispel anger. So I can listen to soothing music.
If you’ve never thought of protecting yourself from the sun, it‘s time to start. Wear a hat and use sunscreen.
Learn how to swim or how to perform a technique called drown—proofing (see ‘Enjoying Water Sports‘).
Learn your family‘s health history. Many diseases are hereditary. If you discover that a particular illness ‘runs in the family,’ your doctor will be better able to monitor your health (see ‘The Informed Patient‘ ).
Follow your doctor‘s instructions. Take all medications as prescribed.
Set up a schedule for any medical tests, including self-examinations, you should have on a regular basis ( see ” Tests And Examinations” ).
Get immunized. If you‘re over 65, or if you have certain chronic health conditions, you should get an annual flu shot and a one—time pneumococcal vaccine shot. Check with your doctor to see if you need them.
Know the warning signs of a heart attack and stroke. ( See link for more information )
Keep a well-stocked emergency medical kit in an accessible place. ( Click here for more information )
Learn the basics of first aid. These include the Heimlich maneuver for choking. Don‘t just learn how to help others; find out how to perform the maneuver on yourself as well. (See for complete instructions.)
Have your house tested for radon, an invisible gas that can cause lung cancer. You should also have your water tested for lead (see for more information).
6 WAYS TO SAVE YOUR LIFE
You can contribute to your own longevity with these basic measures. In fact, it is almost impossible to maintain good health without following these rules.
1. If you smoke tobacco, stop. If you don‘t, don‘t start. Smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable illness in the country. It is bad not only for smokers but for the people around them.
2. Maintain a healthy weight. Excessive weight is linked to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, back problems, and a host of other ailments. If you need to lose weight, do so gradually (see ‘Losing Weight Forever‘ ).
3. Exercise. Inactivity puts you at risk for ailments ranging from heart disease to osteoporosis. The good news is that any activity, from walking to gardening, will help you to get started (see ‘A Lifetime Concern‘ ).
4. Avoid excessive consumption of alcohol.
5. Never drink and drive.
6. Fasten your seat belt every time you drive or ride in a car. Seat belts afford even more protection than airbags do because airbags protect you only from front-end collisions.
UNDERSTANDING HEALTH INFORMATION
Health scares occur when newspapers or television shows misrepresent the results of medical studies. Part of taking charge of your health means knowing what information is useful and what is not.
Don‘t jump to conclusions of change your daily habits on the basis of one health study.
Understand the terms used to describe a study’s results.
“May” does not mean “will”, ” in some people” does not mean “in all people”, and “contributes to” does not mean “causes.”
Keep a healthy skepticism when reading about medical miracles or breakthroughs. Too often the results of a study have been built up to create reader interest.
Statements saying that something doubles the risk of a particular disease sound impressive but can be misleading. If the risk was one in a million, a doubled risk may not be that serious. You‘ll want to pay more attention if the risk was one in a hundred.
Notice where information several studies are stronger than the results of one study. How many were in the study? How much time did it take?
Use common sense. If an author writes that one nation is healthier than another, realize that there is no single cause that can explain the results.
Be wary of any studies used to sell a product. The information is likely to be biased.
How you manage your time can actually affect your health. No one who is chronically overwhelmed by tasks at home and on the job can operate at peak efficiency.
Ask yourself what is most important to you. Then schedule your time to satisfy your own priorities.
Make definite decisions as to how you want to spend your personal time, and resist pressures to sacrifice your time for somebody’s else’s plan.
Don’t over-schedule your free time, or you’ll make it as stressful as your time at work. Instead, give yourself fewer things to do and enjoy doing them more.
Think of quick tasks, such as writing notes to friends, that you can do while waiting in line at the supermarket or at your doctor‘s office.
Don‘t wait for ‘the right moment’ to start a project—that moment may never come. This is especially true if you tend to procrastinate. Remember that few tasks have to be started at the beginning. So if the first step seems daunting, start with another part of the project. Once you‘re in motion, it will be easier to stay with your plan.
Clear your work area so you won‘t be distracted either by mess or by another project.
Save time by deciding what not to do. Vacuum once every two weeks, not every week. From time to time, serve your family sandwiches instead of a hot dinner.