Never has the collective health of the nation – scrap that, the world – been more important. And yet, it can feel like we have less personal control over it than ever. Public health decisions taken seemingly at random, COVID guidelines open to misinterpretation, and a prevailing suspicion of authority have all added up to a feeling that our health is currently not in our carefully washed hands.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Fortunately, there are things you can do, personally, to keep fit and healthy, putting your best foot forward as winter approaches. Here’s how; our 6 ways to take control of your health.

START GOOD HABITS 

Instead of kicking bad habits, let’s try to reframe things and focus on starting good ones. According to scientists, rather than trying to stop those harmful practices which might be holding us back, we should ’’replace a bad habit with a good one’’.

Take drinking as an example. Recent news reports in the UK have warned that the number of ’high risk drinkers has doubled since lockdown’. It’s certainly been all too easy to succumb to that extra glass or two in the evenings, or that lunchtime pint you usually turn down, when everything around you feels so fraught. 

But if you’ve started drinking at 5pm every day (‘you‘, we said ‘you’) employ dynamic measures to replace this behaviour, rather than simply practicing self-denial; take yourself for a walk if you feel the onset of a drinking trigger or instead of alcohol, replace it with a non alcoholic drink such as a green tea which is full of antioxidants. This positive, proactive approach is much more likely to be sustainable and successful. 

PLAN YOUR MEALS

A tried, tested, and triumphant method of getting in control of your health is to adjust your diet. 

Here at IDEAL, we’ve recently found ourselves increasingly eating out of boredom and stress. All this time spent in lockdown has taken its toll and we’re raiding our fridge for comfort food each time we hear some bad news. Which is often. 

And it seems like we’re not the only ones. News reports reveal that lots of us are overeating at the moment, and it can’t be denied that turning to junk food offers us great comfort. To avoid this impulsive eating, nutritionists advise that you start planning out your meals and snacks in advance, weighed, measured and considered, so you don’t succumb to your stomach’s urges quite so consistently.

GO TO THE DOCTOR WHEN YOU NEED TO

It’s been reported that fewer people are seeking medical help out of concerns about COVID-19 being present in GP’s surgeries, hospitals and clinics. 

However, doctors are urging people not to suffer in silence. Regardless of the current situation, if you’re one of those people who puts off going to the doctor, then now is the time to make a change, rather than continue to ignore any latent issues. 

Change your ways and visit the doctor’s when you need to instead of spending weeks googling your symptoms and self-diagnosing yourself with every disease under the sun. It’s important to recognise health issues and take the right steps towards getting treated. Colds and coughs will often go away by themselves, but more concerning issues, like lumps and perpetual headaches, could hint at something deeper. The combination of an underlying, undiagnosed condition and coronavirus could mean you suffer more seriously, so it’s sensible to be cautious.

KEEP UP TO DATE WITH SCREENINGS AND TESTS 

Routine health checks are vital for continued good health and ensuring that you are in control of your wellbeing. However, not enough people follow through with them, and this means you could miss a problem that would be dealt with had you attended your yearly screening. 

Such tests include everything from formal hearing and eye tests to cancer screening for lumps and physicals for the guys. While they can be uncomfortable, especially if you’ve never done one before, they are vital for ensuring you remain in excellent health, and your doctor can highlight any potential issues. If nothing else, they can provide peace of mind that you’re in good health. 

TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH 

Do you remember that hard-hitting Corsodyl advert with the strapline ‘we wouldn’t ignore blood if it came from a tap’? Or, a similarly unnerving campaign showing a woman using mascara and ignoring bleeding from her eye, with the message ‘we wouldn’t ignore bleeding from any other part of the body, so we shouldn’t ignore spitting blood after brushing’? Yeah, that was an effective campaign. 

Good oral hygiene is really important and protecting your pearly whites through brushing and flossing will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Research has even shown that gum disease might be linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia. 

It’s time to take control of our teeth health. While most dentists are only taking emergency appointments right now, don’t put off booking an appointment if you’re suffering. For added peace of mind, certain cosmetic treatments too, from teeth whitening to Veneers, can improve your sense of wellbeing where your teeth are concerned. 

DON’T FORGET YOUR HEAD 

As much as your body will signal when you aren’t treating it correctly, your head will do the same if you’ve been neglecting your mental health. In our always-connected world, it can be impossible to switch off from social media and work, with emails pinging through at unsociable hours causing a level of stress no one needs right now.

Such a culture means you’re never able to switch off, and this means you’re unable to refresh and recharge from the day, ready for the next one. This can have severe ramifications on your mental wellbeing. Do endeavour to set aside some time for yourself each day, for self care and self love, screen free, whether that means taking a long bath, reading a book, meditating or simply taking a stroll. For that much needed peace of mind that we keep extolling the virtues of, such ‘me time’ is essential.