By Dr Riccardo Di Cuffa from Private GPs’ – Your Doctor
Our overwhelming work and family schedules are risking our health because we are not finding the time to be proactive with our health.
Healthcare is a process which takes time and it can be hard to prioritise until there is a real problem. Understanding how to plan your care, navigate a complex healthcare system and get the best support in managing any conditions, particularly as we age, is difficult.
Whilst most of us accept being one step ahead means checking that everything is ok before a problem arises and finding the best and quickest solutions to fix any issues, many of us are not finding the time to actually do it. More men in particular tend to end up in hospital with illnesses which could have been treated by their GP if they had visited them sooner.
The good news is that being proactive about your health not only results in better healthcare; it can also help strengthen your body’s natural self-repair mechanisms and can help your body fend off illness. So what can we do to be proactive?
Have a healthy life balance
As well as work and your loved ones, prioritise eating healthily, exercise, keeping your stress levels down and sleeping well. If you are doing well in these four areas, you are actively looking after yourself. Don’t be fooled into thinking you are fit and healthy if you are regularly going to the gym but sleeping five poor hours a night. All four areas are vital to good health.
Visit your GP…
…if you’re worried about anything and make sure you are given the time to discuss all your healthcare concerns. Pro-active healthcare is easier when you build a strong, open relationship with your doctor so you can talk about your concerns. Regularly check your cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index because there is nothing like the facts to inspire us to do something to change our lifestyle. Don’t delay if you have anxieties, aches and pains, worrying changes to your bodies, are due a check-up, test or vaccination.
We have never been busier but it is vital to prioritise our own health because without good health our busy schedule will grind to a halt. We need to slow down, re-prioritise and take time for our physical and mental health.
Make sure you are fully vaccinated
Especially those who are at risk such as pregnant women, the elderly, children, vulnerable or people, as well as carers. For example, we know that having the flu jab significantly lowers the rates of sickness and death in older people when compared with no vaccination.
Protect your mind…
…and try and avoid toxic relationships and high stress over a long period when possible. Negative beliefs and feelings, and long-term stress reduces levels of cortisol and can create excessive adrenaline which can affect our body’s natural balances. Take breaks every day, go on holiday, don’t get too embroiled in social media and spend time with people you love.
A regular daily short walk…
…will help you get sunlight exposure to increase levels of vitamin D which reduces the risk of seasonal affective disorder, osteomalacia and rickets. Regular exercise will make you feel more energetic, can improve your mood and will help you manage your weight better.
Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation increases the production of the stress hormone cortisol and can even lead to an increase in inflammatory processes in the body. Try to get eight hours of good quality sleep a night.
Having a healthy sex life…
…involves our nervous, circulatory and muscular systems for starters and therefore contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
Eat seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day and swap from white to multi-grains. Avoid sugar. Just 10 teaspoons of sugar a day may impair the ability of white blood cells to fight viruses as well as accelerating the build-up of inflammatory processes which lead to diseases.
It sounds a little silly but laughter may increase the production of antibodies and white blood cells in your body and reduce hormones associated with stress. A positive state of mind helps keep us well and helps recovery from sickness.
Don’t forget to visit your GP if you are worried about something before it becomes a bigger problem. Issues that seem very personal will have been seen by a GP many times before so don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed. Your GP can support and advise you as to the best courses of action to improve the health of all aspects of your body.”