7 Ways to Take Care of Your Body
By Sharla Kostelyk
I’ve never been particularly good at taking care of myself. I am very good at making sure that my kids eat healthy foods and don’t have a lot of sugar, but my own diet is atrocious. I consume large amounts of sugar daily in the form of Slurpees or pop, chocolate and candy. I still eat like a teenager and it’s catching up to me. I used to get very little exercise, but this is something that has already begun to improve. I take my kids to appointments weekly, but have not been to a dentist for myself in 7 years or a doctor in over a year. I may think that in doing this, I am being a good mom, but in fact, the example I’m setting for my kids of how to take care of themselves is not a healthy one.
It’s common especially among women to put others first, but not taking care of your body will get in the way of you having the life you want. If you are not healthy, you cannot achieve the goals you set for yourself. You also cannot fully enjoy what life has to offer if you can’t participate. Imagine that one of your dreams is to travel to Mexico. Once you get there, you find that you cannot climb the stairs of the Mayan ruins or go snorkelling because you are too out of shape.
Even something as simple as playing outside with your kids or your future grandkids can be something impossible if your health doesn’t allow for it.
While there are many aspects of your health that are out of your control, what I’m advocating for here is taking care of the things that you can control so that even if you suffer from a chronic illness, you can get the best out of life that you can.
Here are 7 ways that you can take care of your body to the best of your ability:
Doctors recommend that an adult get an average of 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Although sleep needs are individual and some people do need more rest than others, the effects of chronic sleep deprivation are far-reaching.
Even adults can have trouble sleeping because of sensory issues.
Sleep deprivation affects our mood, our concentration, our attention, our memory, our ability to fight off infection, our libido, and our judgment. Inadequate sleep can also lead to weight gain, depression, car accidents, potentially fatal errors, and cause serious health problems such as stroke, heart attack or diabetes.
Schedule time in your life for sleep. This week, try moving your bedtime back by half an hour.
Are you dehydrated? Even mild dehydration can affect your energy level and your mood. Many doctors still recommend that adults drink eight 8oz. glasses of water per day, but that amount may need to be higher or lower depending on other factors such as your level of physical activity and your size. New research suggests taking your weight, dividing it in two and drinking that number in ounces per day.
Start by adding just one extra glass of water a day to what you are already drinking. You may soon see an increase in your energy.
Nutrition is a complicated thing nowadays with food allergies and food intolerances in abundance. What is healthy for your body may not be healthy for someone else’s but there are certain commonalities that I think most people could agree on. Cut down on sugar. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Eat a variety of foods. Maintain good portion control standards for your body in terms of your height and energy level.
Nutrition is not about weight. It’s about health. It’s about fuelling your body with good energy sources so that it can work at its optimum capacity. Having healthy food on hand is half the battle. I find that by making freezer meals ahead so that I don’t have to meal plan and can easily pull out supper every day, I eat less junk.
Cut out one thing that you know is not healthy for your body even if it is a small thing like adding one scoop of sugar into your tea instead of two.
Many people think of exercise as just being for weight loss but it does far more than that. It helps combat disease such as high blood pressure, depression, certain types of cancer, stroke, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. It boost certain brain chemicals which leaves you feeling happier and more relaxed than before (this is a very good thing!). Exercise boosts your energy, improves your sex life and helps you get a better sleep.
We make all kinds of excuses as to why we can’t exercise (time, kids, health, etc.), but all of us can do this one simple thing: move more. Park further away. Take the stairs. Dance in your kitchen. Use soup cans to do curls. Play tag with your kids at the park.
I have started exercising by changing three things in my life and it has made all the difference. I have more energy, my clothes fit better, I’ve lost weight, and my strength is noticeably improved. I now go on walks with my neighbour three times a week for 6 km. I do the app Seven which is a 7 minute workout. I take the stairs.
Just choose one small way to move more.
When was the last time you got your teeth cleaned or went for a dental check-up? It’s been over 7 years for me even though I take my kids regularly for dental appointments. Did you know that poor dental health and gum disease have actually been linked to heart disease and lower life expectancy? That is a pretty good reason to take it seriously. You are probably (hopefully) already brushing your teeth a few times a day which is a start.
Our mental health is just as important as our physical one. No matter how stressful your life is, there are steps that you can take to decrease your body’s stress response and to be doing good self-care. Take a walk, have a visit with a friend, take a candlelit bubble bath with Epsom salts, read a good book, go for a massage, pray, write in a journal, and/or see a counsellor.
If you are the parent of a high needs child and find that the stress from that is affecting you, consider accessing help and support from The Chaos and The Clutter Community Center.
Breathe: Take a few minutes three times a day to sit with your eyes closed and breathe in and out five times slowly.
I touched on this point already in the dental care section, but I’d like you now to think about other appointments that you may have put off making for yourself. Do you need to see a doctor for a check-up or a specialist for something that is worrying you? Do you need to see a nutritionalist, physiotherapist, naturopath, chiropractor, or massage therapist?
Make an appointment today that you have been procrastinating about.
Plan of action:
- go to bed half an hour earlier
- drink one extra glass of water each day
- cut one unhealthy thing out of you diet
- move more
- start flossing if you aren’t and book a dental appointment for yourself
- breathe slowly in and out five times with your eyes closed three times a day
- book an appointment with a medical professional
Part of getting the life you want is taking care of your body. It’s the only one you’ve got!
Move towards the life you want to live.