Preventing Illness and Injury

Most of us have probably experienced some set-backs in our life, whether it was an injury, or maybe even an unexpected illness. They can really interfere with our daily routine and disrupt what we want to do, adding stress into our lives. Here are some tips to avoid unwanted illnesses or injuries:

Get restful sleep. Sleep is often underrated. One of the most important things you can do for your health is to attain restful, quality sleep. If you don’t feel rested 30 minutes after waking up, chances are you are not getting enough quality sleep. When you are tired, you tend to have low energy, impaired focus and memory, and you can even become irritable. Your body also craves high fat and sugary foods/drinks when you are sleep-deprived, which can lead to illness.  When you are tired, you are less likely to exercise, which can affect sleep quality and stress levels. Your risk of injuring yourself is higher when you tired. Getting into car accidents, poor balance (and falling), and impaired concentration are some products of poor sleep. According to an article written by Mary Desaulniers in “Health Guidance”,Research shows that the sleeping period of drivers who are involved in road accidents are shorter than the ones of those who had sufficient sleep. Sleepiness is very much like being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When you are sleepy, your mental and psychomotor skills diminish.” You can improve your sleep by:

  • adding exercise into your daily routine
  • avoiding caffeine and sugar after the morning, and avoiding late-night eating
  • taking time to wind down an hour before bedtime (turning off any loud TV/music, taking a warm bath, turning off lights, sleeping in a dark, cool, comfortable bedroom with no distractions)
  • getting eight hours of sleep, and maintaining the same sleep schedule morning and night.

Manage/reduce stress. Stressors (the events we perceive as stressful) are always going to be around. Often times, we don’t even have control over them. A car accident, losing a job, a challenging coworker or family member, moving, and getting married are all examples of stressors. What’s important here is how we perceive the stressor, not the stressor itself. For example, you can perceive losing a job as a very negative event or see it as an opportunity to do something new and different. Stress can deplete your immune system, making you more prone to sickness. Chronic stress can lead to disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and other illnesses. You can reduce or manage stress by:

  • engaging in physical activity (exercise) on a regular basis
  • making ‘me’ time (do something you enjoy, have a hobby)
  • meditating and being in the ‘here and now’
  • practicing positive thoughts and avoiding negative thoughts
  • getting restful sleep
  • eating healthy foods

Get moderate amounts of exercise. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins (your ‘good mood’ chemicals in your brain and stomach). Endorphins are your body’s natural pain killers, and they also enhance your mood. Exercise can alleviate and prevent a lot of disease, including anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugars, high cholesterol, arthritis, cancer, insomnia, and constipation.  Balancing exercises can prevent falls, and therefore, avoid injuries. Exercise that is moderate in intensity and performed with proper form can also prevent injury by strengthening your muscles and bones, and by improving your reflexes.

Making gradual changes in your daily routine can reap big benefits to your health and well-being, preventing a lot of unnecessary illness and injury. I challenge you to add one new healthy change into your day, and you will begin to see and feel the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.