Taking care of our health and wellbeing should be at the top of our to do list, but with increasingly busy lifestyles, we often to forget to make it a priority
In fact, a recent report suggested that while the majority of Brits consider themselves to be very or fairly healthy, many are neglecting their everyday health needs.
It’s understandable if you’ve had a stressful week at work or family life is getting on top of you, but when we overlook our health for long periods of time, minor illnesses or concerns can go undetected or may develop into bigger health issues.
That’s why, to help keep our wellbeing on track, we asked GP and Simplyhealth ambassador Dawn Harper, to share her expert advice on how to make our everyday health a priority in 2020.
Eat healthily – and in appropriate portion sizes
“A balanced diet is an important part of your overall health. Getting your five-a-day is a good place to start to ensure you get the fibre, vitamins, minerals and nutrients your body needs to stay well.
“Remember, healthy food doesn’t have to be boring! Keep your diet interesting by trying different frozen fruit or veg, such as berries and soya beans, or mix things up by using dried apricots or mango (although limit to one serving a day as this can be quite high in sugar).
“In addition, simple changes, such as limiting your alcohol consumption and swapping fizzy drinks for more tooth-friendly options such as water, milk or tea and coffee without sugar, will go a long way to improving your wellbeing.”
Top tip: why not have a grapefruit for breakfast or an orange as a mid-morning snack each day for some extra Vitamin C? This can help to give your immune system a boost – particularly when you’re ill.
Take care of your mental wellbeing
“Despite greater awareness of mental health than ever before, it seems there remains a stigma associated with the issue, with the majority of Brits continuing to disregard their wellbeing in this area.
“So, this year, be sure to make your own mental wellbeing a priority, and if you, or someone you care about is suffering, try to open up the conversation and talk about it. Often, vocalising a worry, however big or small, relieves the sense of loneliness we get when we’re faced with coping with something alone
“Moreover, when people talk and receive comfort from others, oxytocin is released which makes us feel good. And so, whether you feel anxious, troubled by money matters or are going through a divorce, talking problems through with someone – whether it’s a close friend or a trained counsellor – can make a real difference.”
“Sleep not only plays a vital role in balancing hormones and restoring the immune system, it’s also important for various aspects of brain function including cognition, concentration and productivity.
“As a general rule you should aim to get around eight hours sleep a night. However, make sure you listen to your body and figure out what’s right for you. For instance, if your alarm goes off and you still have a notable lack of energy, or you spend the day longing for a chance to nap, it’s a sign that you probably need more sleep.”
Top tip: a room temperature of 18C is perfect for helping you to drift off, and a glass of milk may also help – even for adults!
Prioritise routine check ups
“It can be easy to put off check-ups, but there is a lot of wisdom in the saying ‘prevention is better than cure’. For instance, an optician can tell a lot from your eyes, such as what your cholesterol or blood pressure is like and can help to detect diseases like glaucoma, diabetes, dementia, and even tumours.”