Is Preventive Self-Care the Fairest Strategy of All?

By Martha Michael

Couple Looking in Mirror, Thinking About HEalth

If you’re older than ... oh, about 15, you already know the Wicked Queen was wrong. Being “fairest of them all” may get you an attractive spouse, but it’s not very useful ever after.

There’s nothing wrong with looking in the mirror, however; you just have to know what to look for. If your goal is maximum health and wellness, it’s a good idea to use some different vantage points to see how well you’re taking care of yourself.

Check the Rearview Mirror

Sometimes we’re encouraged to stop living in the past. Can it be stifling and limit our potential, physically and emotionally? Sure. But there are benefits, too. Taking care of yourself better may be easier if you see who you are and where you’ve been.

“The power of the past is not to prevent (you) from moving forward, but to energize leaping forward into an unknown future,” says Krystine I. Batcho, PhD, in a Psychology Today article about nostalgia. “Research has shown nostalgia to be associated with greater attention to thinking and strategizing and then taking action to improve the situation.”

Milestones such as graduations and awards are an important part of our continuity, Batcho says, because our past contributes to who we are now.

Your genetic past is worth your attention too, according to a Centers for Disease Control article about medical check-ups. It suggests you look at your family medical history before an initial appointment with your practitioner. It’s one way to measure your risks of contracting such diseases as diabetes or stroke. The adage about those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it has some merit.

Consider the Present

Part of your routine should be regular check-ups, says the CDC, so your care provider can develop a plan for treatment and recommend screenings and exams you may need. For example, upon your initial visit to The Joint Chiropractic, you can expect a comprehensive assessment that won’t break the bank.

“Regular health exams and tests can help find problems before they start,” the CDC says. “They also can help find problems early, when your chances for treatment and cure are better. By getting the right health services, screenings, and treatments, you are taking steps that increase your chances for living a longer, healthier life. Your age, health and family history, lifestyle choices (i.e., what you eat, how active you are, whether you smoke), and other important factors impact what and how often you need healthcare.”

If preventive care becomes a part of your routine, your new regimen of health maintenance means your chiropractor can assess your progress with a baseline in mind. The CDC recommends speaking up if your self-care has been unhealthy in any way. You and your provider can develop a better plan with that knowledge.

Stepping up your wellness can take many forms, of course. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDKD) recommends brisk walking or sports, such as soccer or swimming, in which you can get 150-300 minutes of physical activity per week. You want to add to your muscle strength, as well. For this, NIDDKD suggests push-ups, heavy gardening or lifting weights, for example.

Focus on the Future

Some of your lifestyle changes or procedures may be a plan for somewhere down the line. You may want to choose convenient timing to quit smoking, or plan to save money for a gym membership. Infertility could be something you plan to address. These are all good conversations to have with your practitioner.

Dr. JoAnn Manson, a professor at Harvard Medical School, offers seven steps toward healthy goals that, among other things, include:

  • Ease into exercise
  • Sleep until you're rested
  • Follow a heart-healthy diet
  • Snack selectively
  • Stay connected

We’re living longer today, so keeping up the healthy lifestyle is key, and Dr. Manson thinks your enjoyment will increase your odds.

"No matter how good an activity may be for you, you probably won't sustain it if you hate doing it," she says.

If Dr. Manson’s right and the changes you make in your life need to involve things you enjoy, then where your health is concerned, there really is a use for “happily ever after.”

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