The NHS is one of our most valuable assets, helping millions of people on a daily basis. However, the threat imposed from over-use means that we all have a responsibility to look after ourselves through maintaining a healthy lifestyle. By adopting some simple self-care habits, and making small changes to our lives, we can all help to take the pressure off our doctors and nurses by avoiding becoming a full-time patient.
Avoid becoming a full-time patient
Making lifestyle changes are as beneficial to you as they are to the NHS. Effective self-care can help you to live a longer, healthier, and happier life, as well as allowing those who really need it to gain quicker access to vital health services. Do what you can to avoid becoming a full-time patient so you can hold on to your health and independence.
Step 1-Breaking Bad Habits
We all know that smoking and drinking alcohol in excess is damaging to our health. Quitting smoking, and adapting drinking habits to always remain within the recommended limits, are essential first steps towards effective self-care. In doing so, you can reduce your chances of developing heart disease, liver disease, lung cancer, throat and mouth cancer, stomach ulcers, and kidney damage, amongst many other diseases.
Sugar can also be very damaging to your health, and can be just as addictive as smoking or alcohol. Giving up sugar entirely may not be necessary, but you should try to stick to recommended daily limits and avoid processed sugar as much as possible. By cutting down on sugar,you will be protecting your teeth, reducing your chance of developing diabetes, and you could experience some weight loss if you couple reduced sugar intake with improved healthy eating habits.
Step 2 – Forming Good Habits
Diet and exercise are key in living a long and healthy life. Take a look at 10 simple rules of healthy eating to help you understand what it really means to eat healthily. Some of the most important points include:
- Eating less processed food
- Getting familiar with the traffic light system on food packaging – green levels of salt, fat and sugar are best.
- Drink more water
- Cut out sugary drinks
- Eat at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day
Step 3 – Focus On Mental Health
Diet and lifestyle can also have an effect on our mental health. Recent research has found that 43% of over-50s in England are suffering from two or more conditions. One of these may well be a mental health illness such as depression or bipolar disorder.
Self-care then is not just about diet and exercise, although both of these can effect our mental health as well as our physical health. It is also about taking steps to reduce stress, increase positive thinking, and ensure a healthy work-life balance.
Looking after yourself, both physically and mentally, need not be a chore and will certainly leave you feeling good inside and out. You can successfully avoid becoming a full-time patient by practising good self-care. For more information, speak to your GP or if you have a medical need outside of surgery hours, call NHS Direct on 111, or visit the NHS website.