Eating well and getting enough exercise are just the tip of the iceberg for healthy living. When polled by NPR, 75% of Americans say they’re healthy. But if around 36% of American adults are considered obese, where is the disconnect? Is the wool pulled over our eyes, or do we pull it over our own? We are tempted to go easy on ourselves and congratulate a job well done when we eat a salad or go for a jog around the park, but it isn’t that simple. A wholesome lifestyle needs to pervade every aspect of our lives, and many of us are nowhere near as healthy as we might first think. If you suffer from any of the following problems, you might need to make a few small changes.
Do you have bad skin?
As an initial indicator of wellbeing, poor skin in adults is a great way to tell whether we are getting everything we need. Many people think it is down to finding the right skincare routine, but actually, acne or dermatitis in adults is usually demonstrative of something more problematic within our lifestyles. Ordinarily, bad skin is caused by gut or digestive problems or poor diet. This can also be the cause dark circles under eyes, which can be the result of a poor diet, lack of sleep, or dehydration. However, if dark circles persist, they could be indicative of food intolerances or liver problems, so it’s important to visit your doctor if you’re worried. Pale or sickly looking skin can be the result of dehydration, or something as simple as not enough access to the outdoors. Instead of loading up on more and more expensive skincare products, go back to basics. Make sure you drink plenty of water, avoid processed foods, and have at least five portions of fruit or veg a day. Not only with your skin thank you, but your gut will too.
Are you experiencing random aches and pains?
Our bodies are made to last and withstand huge amounts of wear and tear. If you’re suffering from regular small injuries or aches and pains which don’t seem to be caused by anything, it might be time to listen to your body. Anything from over-work, especially when it comes to sports or working out, or even physical employment, could be taking its toll on your body. A chronic problem such as repetitive strain injury can occur in seemingly random places, so if you experience frequent pain, it’s a good idea to consider how regular movements are affecting it. Random aches and pains can also be caused by tiredness, stress, or anxiety. If you’re going through a high-stress point in your life, chances are you’ll feel it physically, not just emotionally. Make sure you take the time to relax, look after yourself, and listen to yourself. You only get one body - make sure you take care of it.
Do you feel as though you have no energy?
Not wanting to get up in the morning is completely normal, but if you’re still feeling drained when you get out of bed, it could be indicative of something more problematic. Firstly, it could be that your sleep is not as high quality as you need. Maybe you’re not comfortable in your bed or surroundings, or you’re being disturbed, or it could be as simple as needing to go to bed earlier. If you’re suffering from low energy, start by looking at your sleep requirements, but also consider how your diet and exercise could be affecting it too. Is the food you’re eating contributing to your tiredness? Too much processed food can slow you down, as can not getting all your nutrients and minerals. Make sure you’re getting the right balance of all your macros, including carbs, protein, and fat. Limit your caffeine and alcohol intake, as this can affect both your quality of sleep and your energy when you’re awake. Our bodies are complex and nuanced machines, and it can take some time learn how to meet their needs.
Are you experiencing sleeplessness?
Insomnia or struggling to stay asleep are useful indicators that there’s something not quite right, even when you’re feeling fine. Anxiety and stress can keep you from sleeping well, even if you don’t realise you’re suffering. An excellent way to cope with this is to ensure you have a relaxing bedtime routine. Make sure you don’t eat anything for a few hours before bed, as your body will struggle to wind down while you’re digesting. Spend an hour or so relaxing - maybe have a bath, listen to relaxing music, and read a book. Try to avoid all screens for the last hour before bed, as the flickering light and excess information can keep your brain awake for hours. Make sure your room is as comfortable and dark as you can, and keep distractions to a minimum. Sleep is when our bodies refresh and repair, so its importance is huge.
Do you have unexplained symptoms?
If you’ve got any symptoms worrying you, don’t just brush them under the carpet. Something as seemingly innocuous as a slight ringing in your ear, or a persistent cramp in your stomach, could be indicative of something more sinister. We’re all guilty of it - just ignoring problems and hoping they go away, especially as a trip to the doctor’s surgery takes valuable time out of our day. But sooner something small is discovered and treated, rather than letting it worsen. Regular trips to the dentist, optician, gynaecologist, and even STD testing centers, can all help to ensure that you’re in tip-top condition before anything gets serious.
Our bodies are strange and wonderful machines, but they need caring for. It’s easier to ignore problems or aches and pains, and carry on as we always were, but that might not be the best thing for our bodies. Healthiness doesn’t have to take a major lifestyle overhaul, but just a newfound awareness of your own health, and the ability to listen to what your body needs.