As promised in our latest edition of Sunday vibes, we're going to be putting up our series on how to do a life spring clean this week. What on earth is a life spring clean? Well, just like this time of your is a good time to tap in into the enthusiasm associated with increasingly longer days and more sunshine, to reorganize and declutter your home, we feel that way about ourselves. We have decided to try out a Spring clean to our lives in general because it's easy when you're super busy to neglect things like your health or lose control of your finances, get stuck in a rut at work or slowly lose contact with friends. So, with that in mind, we've come up with a 3-step spring clean for your health, wealth and happiness (yes we went there...). Today's post is on health. Let us know what you think in the comments at the end of the post and please share any helpful #lifespringclean tips with us below or on Twitter or Instagram.
Ok so health is actually a pretty big area but there are a few things that you need to work well in order to have a pretty decent quality of life. First off, no matter what your age is, making sure that you have a cardiovascular system in top working order is essential. Try to book an appointment with your doctor (or nurse or healthcare assistant) for a checkup. If you don't have a GP (family physician) then immediately REGISTER with one. Get a check of your heart rate (the rhythm and rate), blood pressure as well as your blood sugar level (and urine test). All of these tests take minutes to complete, can be done by any medically trained person, are super cheap and don't hurt. Yet with these simple investigations, they can determine your risk of heart problems, diabetes or kidney dysfunction.
Alongside the tests, they will also ask you basic screening questions about your lifestyle and family history which can also help to uncover whether you're at an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, diabetes or cancer. Whilst this may sound alarming, it's actually good as they can keep an eye on you and help you reduce the risk of these diseases happening to you. Another benefit to having this health check is they can also provide support if you need help giving up smoking, losing weight, tackling alcohol or substance dependency and fighting stress, anxiety or depression.
Deserving of its own category is women's health. Firstly, as cliched as it sounds, it's important to get to know your body. You should regularly examine your breasts for any lumps, skin changes or discharge. Breast cancer can strike women of any age and may have many different presentations so knowing what's normal for you is important. If you notice any change in your breasts then it's vital you see your doctor who can examine you further and refer you to a specialist. Breast cancer is sadly common but in most cases, if caught early enough, it is highly treatable.
You should also pay attention to your periods and general gynecological health. Menstrual cycles can be affected in terms of regularity and flow by things like stress or hormonal changes. However, changes to your periods and in particular things like bleeding outside of your menstruation window could signal something more serious. Hence, if you notice a change in the regularity or your flow or any abnormal bleeding, then see your doctor. Other gynecological signs worth seeking medical review of include abnormal discharge and pain or bleeding during intercourse.
It's incredibly important to ensure that you attend regular screenings for cervical cancer and breast cancer if you fall into the age groups when they're performed. For a start, cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer in women under 30 and affects 3200 new women in the UK every year. It can be picked up on a routine smear test which all women aged 25-64 are invited to attend every 3 years. Breast cancer, on the other hand, affects 1 in 9 women. The screening programme in the UK covers women aged 50-70 who are invited every 3 years. If you have a family history or have a risk of breast cancer, you may be invited for screening at a younger age. As you can see the screening programmes do not cover all women and are only performed in cycles, hence it is important to examine yourself and monitor changes to your body to pick up any problems whether or not you've been screened.
We women haven't always had a positive relationship with mental health professionals where for a long time, psychological problems in women have been diagnosed as hysteria, madness or malevolence. To this day, women report discrimination and paternalism by mental health workers but that is still not an excuse to neglect this. The most important thing about mental health is to first identify when there is a problem and secondly to accept that this is not a weakness, problem or anything to be ashamed of. It is essential to find the right support which maybe your friends, family, health professionals and support groups or organizations. Usually, a mixture of these will help and in general, there is no size-fits-all approach. It's important to understand that anyone can and does suffer from mental health problems at one time or another. Seeking help early and not judging or critiquing yourself will help you at that moment and also develop strategies to prevent future events or make them easier to cope and overcome.
You know the drill, prevention is always better than cure. As such, making some slight modifications can help keep the doctors away. So, try to work on your diet and exercise. Even small dietary changes like cutting out salt, reducing your intake of processed fats, increasing your consumption of fruits and vegetables will yield huge benefits. A modest amount of exercise such as 30 minutes twice a week of anything that increases your heart rate can improve your cardiovascular fitness. Similarly, cutting back on alcohol and stopping smoking if either is an issue can of course significantly reduce your risk of strokes, heart attack, and certain cancers. Finally, of course, don't forget your skin. Skin cancer is on the rise and can affect any age group and skin tone so it's incredibly important to avoid harmful UV rays and regularly monitoring your skin for any changes. If you notice any abnormal skin or nail changes or even change in a previous mole, don't hesitate to visit your GP for a check-up.
That's it for now, we hope that you're inspired to join us for a health MOT. Keep an eye on our two posts for the complete life spring clean guide which will be put out this week. Let us know in the comments below what you think and if you have any tips you'd like to share.
If you'feeling super enthused, why not add a little skin detox to the mix with our 7-day guide to glowing skin.
For help stopping smoking, check out the free smoking cessation services covered by the NHS.