The recent illnesses or deaths of some notable celebrities – with the exception of Larry King, all of whom are middle-age men, highlight the need to pay more attention to our minds, bodies, and our overall health, including our mental health. John Singleton, Luke Perry, and Kristoff St. John each faced a sudden death due to physical or mental health issues; Larry King, Kurtis Blow, and Peabo Bryson were hospitalized due a cardiac episode and as of this writing, are still in the hospital.
We can all do simple little things by ensuring we address any health problems as soon as we become aware of them. There’s a tendency for people to put it off or ignore important signs. But early detection and treatment are key.
The first thing is to be aware of your body and pay attention to even the subtlest of changes, not only physical changes but to your mind and ability to remember things too. Everything is connected in some way. Changes to or problems with your mind might not be just a mind problem in a vacuum. Changes with your mind can mean a vitamin B12 deficiency, early onset Alzheimer’s Disease, a tumor or blood clot in the brain, or alcohol abuse or drug addiction. A loss of memory could also indicate an early warning sign of depression too. I’ve heard some people say, “I’m not 20 years old anymore.” to explain away forgetfulness. Yes, forgetfulness can be a normal part of aging. But there might be issues going on that are more serious than merely having a bad memory.
Second, seek a medical consultation regularly and not just when you feel sick or have a problem. This is particularly important when you’re not taking care of yourself. A middle-aged man where I work never goes to the doctor, and he maintains a very unhealthy lifestyle. Specifically, he (1) never gets any exercise; (2) follows a poor diet that is high in saturated fats and sugars; (3) and his activities away from the office are so plentiful that he seldom gets sufficient amounts of sleep. Any one of those things is bad by itself. But when you’re doing all three, it is doubly important to get a check-up. This man says it’s been about 20 years since he went to see a doctor. He, like many other people, uses the Internet to research health matters. That can be a good thing. I do that too. But most of the problems you might have could be a symptom of many different things, so you’ll want to have a medical professional check it out to be sure. I understand you not wanting go to the doctor, especially when there’s a co-pay involved only to tell you it’s nothing serious. An alternative is to check to see if your health insurer has an advice line where you can call to speak with an advice nurse. Most insurers have such a service. I have Blue Cross Blue Shield. That’s a great benefit, and the nurse can talk you through your symptoms to try and identify if it could be a serious matter in need of further examination or something you can treat yourself at home.
Third, move more. That was First Lady Michelle Obama’s mantra. If the expense of a gym and a costly monthly membership is too much, you can workout at home. There are dozens of body weight exercises you can do to challenge your muscles. You can find many vie a basic Internet search or look for videos on Youtube. Additionally, both Netflix and Prime have a plethora of exercise videos. If you have cable, there are exercise and fitness channels there too. Some of them are cardio while others are strength. You can easily incorporate them all from the comfort of your home. If all that is still overwhelming for you, get yourself a couple of small 2 or 5 pound dumbbells and go walking a few days each week. Don’t say you’re too busy. There’s always time to squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise 2-3 days each week. If nothing else, it’ll alleviate any stress you may be feeling.
Lastly, look at your diet. You know what I mean. If you need help, look for a good food, health, and fitness Web site or fitness app that you like. Two that I recommend are Myfitness Pal and Sparkpeople; however, there are dozens of them out there. Look around and test drive a few. These sites can help you monitor your meals and plan them out in advance. They also help to track things such as calories, sodium, fat, or other things you may need to track. The other thing I like about these apps is you can connect to other like-minded folk and be a source of non-judgmental accountability for each other.
So, there you have it. We can fix our lives and get a little healthier. We can do this in small steps and make a huge difference.