Cost effective self care is probably something you’ve never verbalized. However, it’s more likely something that’s constantly on your mind, whether consciously or otherwise. This is the third in the Straight, No Chaser series on health self-empowerment. If and as you become more inclined to become a better steward of your health, you’ll come to appreciate the considerations in this post!
Organizing Your Cost Effective Self Care
Let’s view this from five approaches: mental health, physical health, emotional health, social health and spiritual health. If you think about your life, these are its major considerations. Now, start organizing your approach to better care for yourself.
We put mental health first, because… “sound mind, sound body!” We’ve discussed how to optimize mental health before, but keep in mind this principal: the body can only perform as well as the mind is able to direct it. Let’s keep this simple and return to the notion of cost effective self care: exercise your brain on a daily basis with something as simple as reading a book, doing a Sudoku or crossword puzzle, or learning something (try a new language!). These activities produce massive benefits.
If you’ve followed Straight, No Chaser before, you likely appreciate the value of “close your mouth, and get off of your backside.” Physical health isn’t an absolute construct for anyone. Incremental measures produce relative improvements for everyone at every level of health. To that end, we’ve discussed better food choices more than emphasizing “dieting.” We’ve discussed activity even more than “exercise.” Remember, everything you place in your mouth either helps or hurts you. Everything your body is able to do is based on what you’ve trained and empowered it to do. Choose wisely.
In many ways, emotional health involves stress reducing coping mechanism. You must prevent undue stress from choking off your best function and performance. Are you prone to express anger, anxiety, naivete, pessimism or sadness? If so, these are direct threats to your living your best life. We refer to you this stress management guide, but keep this in mind. Regarding emotional health, cost effective self care is – again – a relative consideration. Pick one area to work on at a time. Try a specific mental challenge to improve upon an area, such as road rage. Actively attempt to identify the best case scenario among your options. Commit to spend one day surrounded by an environment that is positive, affirming and stimulating. Then do it everyday!
In the era of social media, there are more social threats to your mental and physical health than ever before. Even without social media, maintaining meaningful relationships with family and friends is often a challenge. Simply put, the important consideration here is making your exposure to social networks as affirming as possible. Spend as much time with family, friends and social media as produces positive benefit to you. Minimize exposure to (or just avoid) them all when they become sources of negative energy or produce an undesired mental state of mind.
Did you know that a lifestyle that includes spirituality (with or without religion) is generally healthier? Whether it’s the organizing approach of religion or the general positive effects on mental health, spiritual health has been shown to be a key contributor to a healthy life. Cost effective self care measures here can be quite simple. Consider simple reflection, meditation, prayer or church. These activities all help you appeal to an affirming part of your existence.
Specific Steps for Cost Effective Self Care
As luck would have it, the Straight No Chaser post on increasing life-expectancy addresses this exact consideration. Review these tips. You’ll notice how simple (and cost-effective) these are. Go for it!
1. Take a walk. Just give yourself a brisk 30-minute walk three times a week. Effect? Reverse your age by about 10 years.
2. Eat more fish. Doing so one to two times a week can reduce your heart attack risk by approximately one-third.
3. Lift weights. Yes, it gets tougher, but I’m not recommending a Schwarzenegger workout. Lifting reverses muscle and bone loss if you do it twice weekly. For those in their 50s or 60s, it can produce strength scores similar to those in their late 30s.
4. Get a pet. This is a pretty easy way to avoid depression and all that comes with it.
5. Hydrate. Your body is almost 70% water. Not soda, water. Learn to embrace clear fluids. When you’re not going clear, coffee and wine also have significant health benefits.
6. Equip your home. Everyone should have a functioning smoke alarm, carbon monoxide detector and fire extinguish, and everyone in your home should know where they are and how to use them.
7. Put a helmet on your head. 1,000 people die every year in the U.S. from motorcycle, bicycle, scooter or skydiving injuries related to not wearing protective helmet.
8. Engage in safe sex. Yes, people are still dying prematurely and living compromised lives because of the failure to wear condoms while others protect themselves.
9. Be optimistic. This keeps the negative effects of the body’s physiologic stress response from harming you.
10. Reduce your red meat intake. Even the daily intake of just one serving of red meat equivalent to the size of your fist decreases life expectancy by approximately 13 percent.
11. Spend time with friends. Healthy social networks have been shown to add as much to your life expectancy as healthy endeavors such as lowering high blood pressure and reducing high cholesterol levels.
12. Be generous. Studies consistently show that those who help others report better health than those who don’t. It may just be correlation, but being on the right side of this fence makes the world a better place.
13. Sleep. Seven hours a day gets done what your body needs to function optimally.
14. Discover blueberries. There’s been much talk about “superfoods.” Blueberries meet the criteria. Consuming approximately two cups a day has been shown to prevent chronic diseases, reduce depression and improve memory.
15. Enjoy sex and orgasms. There are a million jokes about the benefits of sex, but legitimate benefits include burning calories, reducing stress, inducing sleep and reducing pain.
16. Snack on nuts. Healthier nuts include almonds, cashews and pistachios. Eating them five days a week has been shown to add nearly three years to your life expectancy.
17. Get up! Sitting for more than three hours at a time independent of other activities can reduce your life expectancy. Take breaks, stretch and move around.
18. Maintain adequate intake of vitamins. You shouldn’t need supplemental vitamins if your diet is appropriate, buy if it’s not, here are the daily requirements that ensure optimal function. Vit C (1200 mg/day), Vit D (400-600 IU/day), Vit E (400 IU/day), Vit B6 (6 mg/day), calcium (1000-1200 mg/day) and folate (400 mcg/day).
19. Measure your blood pressure. Work to maintain your blood pressure at or below 115/75. This will help you function as much as approximately 25 years younger than someone of a blood pressure at or about 160/90.
20. Brush. Floss. Daily brushing and flossing can improve your functioning by approximately six years.
21. Wear your seatbelt. The combination of seatbelt wearing and driving within five MPH of the posted speed limit can improve your life expectancy by approximately three and a half years.
22. Eat fiber. The number to know here is 25. If you get 25 grams of daily fiber in your diet, that improves your function by approximately two and a half years over consuming half that amount. Look for high fiber dietary options.
23. Learn to laugh. Laughter actually does have clinical benefits. It strengthens your immune system by decreasing the stress-induced release of certain hormones. Learn to take or tell a joke!
24. Love fruits and vegetables. The more fruits and vegetables you eat compared to red meat, the better your life expectancy becomes.
25. Consume medical care, information and advice. Being proactive about your health increases both your life expectancy and life functioning compared to someone a dozen years younger who does not. This includes getting recommended screenings and immunizations.
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