Oh, what a house of cards we are in so many ways! The life you’ve constructed so beautifully can tumble to a useless pile in a moment. I’ve seen it happen in an instant. A fall, a car crash, a catastrophic stroke, a cancer diagnosis that is discovered too late. You are more vulnerable and more fragile than you can imagine. Trust me. I’ve been a nurse for decades. I know.
Some of you can endure the collapse and go on to rebuild. For others, there is no option. Your cards are forever altered. The tumble can come from forces completely outside your control. Or, for many, there could have been preventative steps to be taken . . . if you had only known in advance. And regrets can be haunting.
For anyone interested in prevention, all it takes is focus and follow through. Nothing new or earth-shattering. Caution, safety, thoughtfulness. Here is my top ten.
- Exercise – Shoot for 30 minutes 5 times a week. If the 30 minutes can’t fit into your schedule, even short bursts of active moving will help. Just make sure to move!
- Maintain a Healthy Weight – Resist the urge to accept the five to ten-pound weight gain that can occur yearly. This adds up and becomes fifty pounds or more. Weigh regularly to monitor where you are and seek help when needed. Eating breakfast will jump start your metabolism and prevent over-eating later in the day.
- Moderate Alcohol – This is a tough one as drinking is so socially acceptable. What society accepts is not as well tolerated in your brain and body. Alcohol dementia is especially hard on the family but then it’s too late to reverse.
- Sleep Health – Adults require 7-9 hours nightly for both physical & mental benefits. If you struggle with insomnia, consult your physician to address the cause.
- Stop Smoking – Sadly, this is the # 1 hardest addition to tackle. However, it’s worth it for all the wonderful health benefits and the cost savings. Your doctor is there to assist.
- Drink Plenty of Water – Sugary drinks have been linked to both obesity & diabetes.
- Go Offline for Part of Your Day – Hard as it is, you can turn off all devices, including your phone for a period every day. This frees up time to do other activities without distraction.
- Get Regular Checkups – An annual visit to the doctor is a small price to pay for preventive health. Primary care physicians will guide you through all the screening recommendations to catch problems at an early stage. The difference between early detection and late can save your life.
- Be a Safe Driver – Allow adequate time to avoid the pressure of speeding. Focus on driving, not texting or dialing or all the many things that can be done. So many others on the road are distracted that defensive driving can save your life.
- Use Sun Protection – Protect both your skin and eyes from damage that cannot be reversed. Shade both all year long.