I have a bad habit. Lots of them, actually, but the most insidious is how I slack off on basic self care. I’ll shell out $100 at the spa for an aromatherapy massage, yet I struggle to remember to take my multivitamin every morning.
>When I was a kid, my mother kept track of which vaccinations I needed. She made sure I had warm gloves in the winter, and that I always wore my seat belt. I was her responsibility and she did a great job. But it’s not fair to expect my 70-year-old mother to still keep track of this stuff for me, especially since we live on different coasts. I’ve long since passed the age when I can pass the responsibility on to her. This body is mine, and it’s the only one I’m getting.
Here are some of the most basic self care habits, which are universally considered important for health and well-being. Do you do all of them? Do you know anyone who does?
- Floss every day.
- Wear sunscreen every day — at least 30 SPF — all year long.
- Wear a seat belt every time you’re in a moving car.
- Drink eight glasses of water a day.
- Sleep seven to 10 hours each night.
Sure, most of us are very busy. But we can’t claim that we’re too busy to floss our teeth if we have time to get our hair straightened or get a manicure. It could be a case of good old-fashioned denial. These healthy living basic habits are associated with staving off death and dying. Maybe it’s easier to not think about skin cancer than to slather on SPF every day.
It’s tempting to think we still have time to go on the straight and narrow later when we’re older. It could be that we blow off the basic stuff because the fact that it’s basic makes it seem less important. Maybe we’re tired of hearing about flossing and sunscreen and seat belts; the chorus of parents, teachers, doctors, cops, and health reporters has gotten so repetitive that we’ve tuned it out. Maybe it’s a form of mini-rebellion. Logic be damned — we’re not following any authority figure’s orders.
Whatever the reason, it’s never too late to start healthier habits.
Here’s how (using sunscreen as an example):
- Be specific. It’s not enough to say, “I need to take better care of myself.” It needs to be more like, “I commit to wearing sunscreen every day, no matter what the weather’s like.” If you live with another adult, let him or her know your goal, so they’ll keep an eye on you, too.
- Take action. Buy a brand of sunscreen you like and keep it somewhere prominent, where you can’t miss it each morning. Post a little reminder note by your sunglasses.
- Have a fallback plan. Stash another bottle of sunscreen in your office, in case you forget to apply it at home.
- Don’t give up. If you don’t fully adopt this basic self care habit right away, don’t throw in the towel. Figure out what went wrong (i.e. you forget because you were running late) and make a course correction (i.e. setting your alarm clock five minutes earlier.)
What about you, Constant Chatter readers? Do you take good care of yourself?