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Most of us have a long list, tucked neatly away somewhere in the back of our minds, of things we “should” really get around to doing. But life is busy, stuff happens and at any given time, there is a lot vying for your attention. As days get busier and “urgent” issues crowd the schedule, the tasks most of us tend to put off are the feel-good ones; personal care and routine check-ups that are in the long run pivotal to our overall health and well-being.
Even if you’re usually pretty good about preventative care and routine maintenance, every once in a while things can get out of hand. Life isn’t perfect, and when we are faced with overly stretched schedules or extenuating challenges, things that aren’t crucial tend to fall by the wayside. The good news is, when everything settles down again, you can make a decision, take action and get back on track.
Here is a list of things that are guaranteed to be beneficial to your overall wellness that you should stop putting off in 2020. Try and take care of one to items a month and fell your life transform.
Detox and Give Your System a Break
Toxins naturally build up in our bodies; from the food we eat and from the environment. This can be exacerbated by stress and poor sleep habits that put extra strain on our digestion and immune system. Try to cut back on things like sugar, alcohol and meat and move to a more plant base diet. Packaged foods are also laden with preservatives and easing up on these gives the system a break. Ideally, we would all eat whole, natural foods and “nothing with a label”, but that’s not totally practical or sustainable unless you are super hardcore with your nutrition. Even eliminating one of those items for one day each week is a huge improvement.
Other ways to detox: bump up your intake of water, even adding a single glass a day to what you already drink. Try rebounding or jumping jacks for at least a minutes a few times a day to get sticky, sluggish lymph fluid moving. Dry brush your skin once a week before you shower to further stimulate lymphatic drainage. And foam body rollers are a really effective and affordable way to do a deep tissue massage, increase circulation, and release tension, especially in the low back that can result from sitting at a desk all day.
Get Regular Dental Check-Ups
I doubt that I need to tell you that regular dental visits are important, yet it can be one of those things, that if it’s not on the calendar it just get’s sidelined. And let’s face it, there’s not many of us who delight in a trip to the dentist. But regular dental check ups and deep cleaning helps to keep your teeth and gums healthy, which has actually been linked to heart disease prevention as well. (and another study here)
If you don’t have a regular dentist you visit, ask friends or coworkers who they go to, or compare reviews on a quick google search in your area. I actually found an amazing dentist through a Groupon deal a couple of years back. I must have seen the ad a hundred times before giving in and calling, but I was overdue for a cleaning and the upfront investment was low so I thought, why not, at least it’s something and it’s worth a shot. SO glad I did! There are also, companies like FLOSS and Castle Dental make it easy to get a walk in appointment at an affordable price.
Get Off Sugar
This is another one that we all know, but it can be so hard to do. I personally don’t buy sugar on it’s own, and haven’t in more than a decade. But I do have a bit of a sweet tooth with cookies being my weakness. Sugar is a hard habit to kick because it activates the brains reward system and it’s in virtually all processed foods with some of the hidden culprits being low fat yogurt, bottled smoothies, peanut butter, barbecue sauce, dried fruit, breakfast bars, salad dressing, whole grain bread and even some lunch meats. Try weaning off of sugar slowly switching to honey whenever you can, cutting out prepared beverages and being label conscious with processed foods. After the initial first couple of weeks you’ll probably notice increase mental clarity and clearer skin as some of the immediate of benefits.
Skincare appointments can get pricey, but if you can afford to, try to see a professional even a couple of times a year. A certified esthetician or better yet a dermatologist can really accurately assess your skin, help you figure out what your skin may be reacting to if you are breaking out, and how to better take care of your skin to prevent signs of aging and sun damage. They can also help you find the best products to use (Obagi is one of my favs) and teach you how to use them to get that dewy glow we all want. Your skin is your largest organ and plays an enormously important role in detox. Be good to it and you’ll reap the rewards.
Get a Massage Occasionally
We all carry so much tension in our shoulders and our neck. Part of it is a reaction to day to day life and external stressors, but it’s also exacerbated by long hours working on a computer. And although they feel amazing, massages aren’t just pure indulgence. A good massage helps to improve circulation, eliminate toxins, reduce pain and fatigue, relieve headaches, and anxiety and assist in digestion and flexibility. And never underestimate the power of human touch, especially if you are single or between relationships. And a little indulgence is just good for the soul.
Meet with a Nutritionist
Even if you are a pretty healthy eater, most of us could benefit from occasional expert advice. Many nutritionists will tell you the main reason clients come to them are because they are experiencing digestive issues such as IBS, IBD, bloating, indigestion, etc. Other reasons include training for a sports event or trying to improve overall health and wellness.
A nutritionist can provide general healthy eating advice, including practical recommendations of easy meal prep and recipes. They can also shed light on things such as hidden food sensitivities that you may not have been aware of. Many times we are allergic to specific foods or ingredients without realizing it, and our bodies react through things like general inflammation, IBS or heartburn. They can also recommend essential vitamins and minerals you might be lacking or could benefit from a little more of, and foods you should be eating or avoiding, to feel your best.
Get an Annual Physical
This is another one that can be tempting to put off, but it just makes good sense! A yearly physical isn’t just to diagnose problems, although there is huge value in being aware of that. It brings your care up-to-date, can provide an ongoing baseline of what your personal norm is, and review and update any medications you are taking.
Your doctor can also provide guidance on reducing your risk for specific degenerative conditions or diseases and maybe give you a gentle nudge and some helpful tips to lose unhealthy pounds or manage things like cholesterol and blood pressure.
Start Meeting with a Therapist
We all need someone to talk to, and expecting family and friend to step up every time, all the time is just unfair. It strains relationships, puts an undue burden on them, and they are simply not qualified to dole out expert advice. Having a completely unbiased person, someone who is totally removed from your circle of influence, to listen to your deepest, darkest, and most ridiculous thoughts is liberating. We all have challenges in life and could at least occasionally benefit from expert advice and healthy coping skills to get through them.
Today, online therapy is readily available, and there are a whole host of apps like CounselChat, BetterHelp, Therapist Finder, and Talk Space that can make the process so much easier. When seeking a mental health practitioner, be sure to take the time and find someone who is a good match for you.
Visit a Chiropractor
Chiropractic care isn’t always something that is top of mind until there is a problem or injury. But your spinal health is literally the backbone of your life. Ongoing chiropractic care has helped me in more ways than I can possibly convey. We store so much tension in our bodies, and everything connects through the spine.
Balancing your body leads to less stress and tension, and a well adjusted body allows you to manage stress better. It also improves joint mobility and health, loosens tight muscles, decreases degeneration of the joints and connective tissues (arthritis), improves circulation, athletic performance, and, my favorite, nerve system function. i.e. hits the reset button for the central nervous system.
My preferred form of chiropractic is something called Network Spinal Analysis. It’c completely light touch – no cracking or popping, or as it was first explained to me “no one inflicting their will on your body.” I’d really encourage you to research this one but you can find more info here. It truly changed my life.
Walk, Ride a Bike and Take The Stairs
It’s not always easy to find time to fit a workout into your schedule, or maybe you just want to up your game. Ditch the car occasionally for quick errands. Walk, run or ride a bike to the bank or store. If you do have to take the car (and won’t have too much to carry coming back) park further away from the door than you normally would… a LOT further. like a block or two. And if you’re only going up or down a couple of floors in a building, why not opt for the stairs? Get yourself a fitness tracker and start measuring the results, even set a goal for yourself. I find I’m able to do 2k or about an extra mile and a half every day just by opting for a little extra leg work.
Drink More Water
Yes, I’m going to be one more person to chime in on this one. But seriously, as adult humans we are about 60 percent water, and our blood is 90 percent water. If you get dehydrated, guess how that looks from the inside? Water is essential for the kidneys and other bodily functions. It lubricates the joints, forms saliva and mucus, cushions the brain and spinal cord, regulates body temperature and boosts skin health.
My own personal little trick is to fill four 12 oz bottles and one 12 oz glass from my Britta every morning. The glass I drink right away, like it or not, and the bottles over the course of the day. I usually sneak a couple of cups of herbal tea in there as well to boost the total.
Stick To a Digital ‘Quitting Time’
Is your last hour of the evening spent journalling, soaking in a hot bath or engrossed in the pages of a book, hanging on every word? Or have you wandered down the rabbit hole of social media? If you answered no to the first part and yes to the second, you’re not alone. Smart phones and tablets in the bedroom are the norm, and I have to confess to sometimes polishing articles late and night, laptop in hand. But there is a cost. The blue light that is emitted from phones, laptops and tablets disrupts our circadian rhythm which is what we rely on to regulate our sleep patterns and ultimately ensures a long, full night’s sleep. Being online keeps us in a perpetual state of alertness, even if only mentally when the body has to give in to the inevitable fatigue.
We tend to have a fixed time to wake up, however, bedtime is moveable. If you consistently stay up late, it won’t take long for your body clock to readjust. The more you do it, the more your body moves the clock forward. And this makes waking sooooo difficult.
Although this is most often referred to as a “digital curfew”, I don’t like the term because most of us didn’t care for curfews as a kid! That makes it really hard to stick to. This is just your digital quitting time. It’s when you get to punch the clock and check out. This is the start of your ‘Me’ time which you can use for wellbeing and ultimately taking care of your sanity and your health.
I hope you find this list both helpful and inspiring! Aim for two of these per month, and I guarantee there will be a whole new you by the end of the year. As you go along, notice if anything changes – do you feel better, sleep better, or relationships improve? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!