It’s Time to Get Your Health Back on Track This Summer: 5 Easy Steps to Better Health by April N Kapu, DNP, APRN, ACNP-BC, FAANP, FCCM, FAAN
After 15 months of quarantines, social distancing, mask wearing and stress, many people are realizing their health could use a boost. Perhaps they’ve gained the “quarantine 15,” missed a mammogram or let their cholesterol prescription lapse. As people emerge from their homes, they have a real opportunity to get their lives and health back on track.
If you are like most people and have experienced some health setbacks during the pandemic, you are not alone. Consider these five steps to better health, and be kind to yourself as you get started.
- Schedule a primary care checkup. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that nearly 41 percent of Americans delayed or avoided receiving health care during the pandemic. Now that in-office appointments are available again, schedule a checkup with your primary care provider – consider a nurse practitioner – and aim for a clean bill of health. If you haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19, now is the right time to get a vaccination or discuss any concerns with your provider.
- Develop healthy eating habits. Being home-bound may have resulted in undesirable food choices. With summer fruits and vegetables readily available, it’s the perfect time to incorporate more produce and lean meats into your diet. With restaurants now open, those who are fully vaccinated can finally enjoy a night out and let someone else cook them a healthy meal. The key is to make healthy food choices.
- Pick a fun, outdoor activity. With summer temperatures on the rise, it’s time to enjoy the benefits of exercising outdoors. Getting outside helps boost the production of vitamin D, which can lower your blood pressure, combat inflammation and even improve mood. Take regular walks or pick a new activity like hiking, running or cycling to soak up the sun and get your heart pumping.
- Focus on your mental health. Everyone experienced high levels of stress during the last year and a half. This summer, take stock of your mental health. Mindfulness and meditation have shown benefits in helping some patients reduce stress. If you experience lingering or worsening symptoms of anxiety or depression, don’t wait to talk to your health-care provider.
- Catch up on sleep. The stress of the pandemic caused many people to lose sleep and experience insomnia. According to the CDC, more than 35 percent of adults didn’t get a full night’s rest. This summer, take some time to unplug, take a break from work and catch up on some shut eye (preferably on a beach).
You’ve made it through a tough and challenging time. This summer, it’s time to focus on yourself. Follow these five steps and get your health back on track. You deserve it!
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