Everyone wants to live a healthy lifestyle, even if only theoretically, but the term, wellness, is often an inscrutable one. It can seem subjective, and many people prefer it that way because it affords them the opportunity to cheat themselves out of what they consider to be the arduous chore of being healthy. It is for this very reason that people need help with even the task of defining wellness so that they know precisely how to achieve it. The following is basically a benevolent to-do list for appraising your own wellness so that you don’t one day catch yourself waking up in a hospital bed by surprise. We’re not suggesting this to-do list will keep you out of the hospital; we’re saying that, at the very least, you won’t be surprised to find yourself there if you don’t bother to do any of these things. Consider these five do’s a hedge against the to-do list evolving into a bucket list against your will one day.
- Routine Screening: Get over it. It’s not even much of an ordeal honestly. This recommendation is especially critical for young people in the twenties and early thirties because they tend to be the demographic that proves most cavalier about going in for checkups. Ideally, the way to stay healthy when you’re older is to get on top of these checkups as early as humanly possible and then remain consistent. Various forms of cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses need to be caught quickly or even preempted if possible. For example, “there is a higher risk of testicular cancer in your twenties and thirties,” according to Dr. Steven Lamm, Director of NYU’s Langone Medical Center for Men’s Health. Besides this, these checkups are a doctor’s opportunity to see that you’re up to date on immunizations and check your baseline numbers for cholesterol and blood pressure.
- Check Your BMI: If you’re a professional musician, you’re wondering what song licensing has to do with your health—different BMI. When you’re taking stock of your wellness or, God forbid, your lack thereof, you definitely want to gauge your body mass index. Your weight in and of itself can endanger you, and believe it or not, it may actually be worse to find yourself underweight than overweight in many cases. The “normalcy” zone for BMI is between 18.5 and 25, and 30+ represents obesity, which is inherently dangerous. To calculate your BMI, ask yourself, “How tall am I in meters? What’s my height multiplied by itself? What do I weigh in kilograms?” Then, divide your weight by your squared height.
- Physical Activity: Be honest with yourself here. Don’t give yourself that whole “all-the- miles-I-must-walk-back-and-forth-to-Hillary’s-office” spiel. According to the Centers for Disease Control, you’re supposed to be averaging a bare minimum of either an hour and fifteen minutes of intense, physical activity per week OR two and a half hours of moderate activity per week. Either way, this isn’t an amount of activity that will make you any healthier; it’s a bare minimum to ensure you don’t waste away. In other words, falling short of this is irrefutably un-okay, so refrain from rationalizing your shortcoming too much.
- Food Journaling: This is primarily about accountability. Nutritionists, wellness coaches, and Weight Watchers all advocate the practice of keeping a food journal because it keeps you accountable to yourself for what you eat every day. The idea is to never skip anything; record every meal and every snack no matter how small. Dr. Kathianne Sellers Williams is both a nutritionist AND a wellness coach, and she says exactly that. You’re not just writing down what the foods are either, assuming you’re keeping a productive journal. You most certainly want to include calories, fat, proteins, and all your intakes so that you have a genuine understanding of what your effort to lose weight, gain weight, or what-have-you looks like.
- Go Freud Yourself: Your emotional stability is often an indicator for any of a variety of issues you might have. It can tell you if you’re getting enough sleep, for example, and a lack thereof, mind you, can have cumulative effects such that only getting quality sleep one night out of three still doesn’t counterbalance the other two. The objective is to sleep for eight hours a night, so you should always be aiming to get as close to eight as you can. In other words, those curfews your mom used to impose on you were really just good common sense. There’s also the matter of whether or not your unconscious yearn to build relationships is being satiated. Human-beings need “positive and lasting relationships” according to Dr. C. Nathan DeWall, psychology professor at University of Kentucky. You need the affirmation of camaraderie whether you’re prepared to admit that to yourself or not, and not having it can impinge upon your emotional and mental state.