Health Habits We All Slack Off On
Not to condone slacking off on important health habits, but I think we all take a little comfort in knowing that we aren’t the only ones who aren’t perfect at something. You aren’t lazy. You aren’t irresponsible. You aren’t a monster. You aren’t immature. You’re just busy, like everyone else! You have higher goals beyond keeping your immunity up and your weight in check. That’s a part of being a person: we are emotional and intelligent beings who have many more aspirations beyond just staying healthy and alive. That being said…we do need to stay both healthy and alive if we’re going to write that book, take that trip around the world, start that non-profit, choreograph that dance, volunteer at that dog shelter, teach our children a second language, and all of the wonderful, enriching things we’d like to do. We have nothing without our health. We always realize that when our health goes. Like when a flu means you have to cancel that dinner party you’ve been planning for months or ask your coworker to take over giving the presentation you so pain stakingly prepared. That’s when we realize that, whoops, we don’t get to ignore our health forever. But I get it: doing all of the little things we are to do every day or week or quarter or even year to keep our bodies moving like well-oiled machines isn’t easy or convenient. We don’t make time for them the way we do for, say, drinks with friends or a trip to that store that’s having a BOGO sale. So next time you’re making that little mistake you make with your health, know that eight other people on the block are too. No, wait, correction: most of your neighbors are. Here are health habits we all slack off on.
Taking all those vitamins
Fish oil. A multi-vitamin. An iron supplement. Vitamin C. A magnesium-calcium complex. Those are all of the vitamins I take. The fish oil must be taken three times a day. I do the best I can but, we all know how it is: you’re running out the door, and don’t have it in you to uncap all of those child-proof jars to get out each and every vitamin. Your bladder is also quite full from all the coffee you consumed, so drinking a glass of water to get down all of those vitamins doesn’t sound appealing.
Washing our hands
You make a good effort to wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating. But are you really washing your hands all of the times they’re gathering germs? Washing hands is one of the top ways to stop the spread of germs. And there are so many places we pick up germs every day, and so many times we have physical contact with others without even thinking about it.
If you have allergies or asthma, the dust in your home is making symptoms much worse. But if you can’t afford a housekeeper, and don’t have much free time to clean (who does?), then really removing all of that dust on a regular basis simply isn’t a priority. You walk around your home, see dusty surfaces, and think, “I should do something about that.” But cleaning that dirty toilet or tub takes priority, then the dog needs a walk, you get a call, and you forget.
Teeth cleanings are never convenient. Your preferred dentist isn’t open on the weekends, which is the only time you really have to do this. Or you can get up at 6am to squeeze one in before work or waste your lunch hour on it. So you tell yourself you’ll just floss super-duper well and…don’t need your cleanings.
Replacing our toothbrush
When was the last time you swapped out your toothbrush? Or the head on your electric toothbrush? Uh oh. But it’s hard to A) Recognize when it’s time to change it and B) add it to your list of things to buy at the grocery store. You have your set things you know you buy every week—those are easy to remember—but your toothbrush is not one of them.
Replacing old running shoes
When your running shoes wear down, they don’t give you the support you need and you can start to put your joints at risk. But, running shoes (good ones at least) aren’t cheap, and knowing just which ones actually offer all of the support they say they do can be tough. So if you’re like many joggers out there, once you find a pair you like, you hold on as long as you can aka longer than you should.
Self breast exams
Have you been getting your breasts examined regularly? Have you been giving yourself examinations at home? It’s an important step to preventing breast cancer. There are some important guidelines about when and how to have your doctor do an exam, and when to do your own. But I wouldn’t be surprised if you were covering your face right now realizing it’s been too long.
Getting the flu shot
Getting the flu shot is rarely convenient. Even when you get it done at the pharmacy, you still have to wait in line at the pharmacy, and then, after checking in, you’re sent to wait in one of the stiff little chairs for 15 to 20 more minutes until someone can actually administer the shot. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could give ourselves the shot? (Do not attempt that—just daydreaming out loud here.) So you skip it this year and…you get sick. Then you waste an entire week, sick in bed. It would’ve been best to “waste” the 20 minutes waiting for the shot.
The funny thing about saying, “I don’t have time to meditate” is that you truly don’t have time not to. Some spiritual guides may even say that anything you do without meditating that day is a waste of time, because you aren’t doing it with a clear head, or with a clear purpose. You aren’t putting out your best self. You make better and more efficient use of your time when you meditate, so make the time. Even if it’s just five minutes a day. I know I’ve been slacking off.
Drinking lots of water
There are so many reasons to drink more water, and so many ways you notice it when you don’t drink enough. Every part of your brain and body functions better with enough water. But, I get it: remembering to fill up and carry that big jug around all day is a pain in the butt. You tell yourself you’ll just grab cups of water throughout the day. But then, you’re at your desk working, and getting up, walking to the kitchen, and pouring yourself a glass of water sounds like a real pain.
I separate probiotics from the vitamin section because when you forget to take them, you can face a very specific slew of issues. You can become constipated, wasting more time in the bathroom. You can suffer from painful indigestion, which makes it hard to concentrate on your work. But again, it’s tough to remember to refrigerate those little probiotics and take them every day.
Keeping electronics out of bed
We know that using electronics at night interferes with a good night’s rest. But we’ve also trained our brains to get some sort of odd calming sensation from electronics—we scroll through Instagram when we’re bored or look at Facebook at work when we’re feeling sad. So, it’s hard to leave that laptop or phone out of the bed. You think, “Just a little scrolling can’t hurt…”
Though non-white groups are less likely to develop melanoma, when it does occur, it’s usually detected later than it is in white individuals, and for that reason, can be more fatal. So, are you scheduling your skin checks? Between scheduling your annual physical and well women’s exam and pap smear and teeth cleaning, I bet that skin check is falling to the wayside.
Switching up your groceries
It’s easy to get in a rut with groceries. You have your routine at the store. You could practically shop blind folded. But then, you buy some things you don’t even like, so you don’t use them, and then you…order unhealthy delivery instead. Though nobody wants to take the time to learn one more thing, it’s worth it to discover tasty ways to make all sorts of vegetables and other healthy items.
Stretching before exercising
Is anybody remembering to stretch out there? Anybody? I know I have exactly 30 minutes to dedicate to exercise a day and that includes changing into workout clothes and showering after. I’m not stretching. But, it bites me in the a** some days because then, I’m so sore for several days that I don’t exercise during that time.