While we all learn the basics of addition and multiplication in school, it’s rarer that we learn about our health. Sure, we sat through sexual health classes and learned to cook a few basic meals, but when it comes to physical and mental health, nutrition, and navigating the ins and outs of the health care system, most of us are woefully underprepared.
That’s why many fresh-faced college students will pack on the “freshmen 15.” It’s why many of us don’t know what to do when we’re feeling light-headed for the first time. It’s why the stigma around mental health has persisted into the most recent decade.
At the end of the day, there are always going to be gaps in your knowledge of healthcare. But making the choice to learn about health — and all the factors that play into it — is essential. When you want to learn about health, rely on these tips to get a better foundation for your knowledge.
The ins and outs of exercising
If you went to a school that demanded physical education growing up, you might have been taught the importance of staying active. The rule of thumb tells us that you need at least an hour of exercise a day, but many of us don’t know what kind of exercise we should be engaging in.
Fortunately, this answer looks different for everyone. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercising you’re doing as long as you’re getting your heart rate up and moving your body regularly. Some people choose to invest in yoga each morning while others will spend an hour running around their town in the afternoon. Even riding an ATV or sailing around on a jet ski can offer you more physical health benefits than you may realize. Before you search for a local ATV dealer in Michigan, however, you’ll want to invest in activities that work for you.
Some people hate the droll of slowly moving through a yoga class while others cannot stand the monotony of a long run. If these types of workouts don’t “work” for you, don’t be afraid to try something new. You’re never going to stick to a workout plan if you hate the activities you’re doing.
Ditch the gym and try going on longer walks with scenic views. Try lifting weights in the comfort of your own home. Invest in a community pass to your local swimming pool. Join a community kickball league. There are a number of great activities out there for you to explore.
There’s also no shame in relying on a professional for help. Medically supervised weight loss programs can give you all the tools you need to live a happier, healthier life. They will delve into such aspects of your health as nutrition, exercise, and any health issues you may have. For example, some people with thyroid conditions will find it harder to lose weight than others. Getting on the right medication and talking to health professionals will be the best way to maintain your health in the long-term.
Exercise and health looks different for everyone. Just because you aren’t a size two doesn’t mean that you aren’t healthy. As long as you’re eating right and getting exercise, you can live a healthier life.
Mental health is vital
In case you were raised in a more conservative area, mental health matters. If you’re feeling sad, apathetic, or increasingly nervous each day, these aren’t normal aspects of a healthy life. Some people are simply born without the ability to create and/or process hormones that keep us happy. That means that positive thinking, eating healthy, and staying active won’t do a whole lot when you want to flip that frown upside down.
Young adulthood is a particularly difficult time for people. After all, you may be going somewhere completely new for college with no friends. You might be breaking up with your significant other when you move to a new town. You might miss the structure of going to high school every day or you might hate your first job so much that you spiral into depression. This is also the age where certain mental illnesses are more apt to make themselves known. Schizophrenia typically develops between the ages of 18 and 24 in young men while anxiety is one of the most commonly diagnosed mental health issues in colleges across the country. On top of that, the temptation of drugs, alcohol, and addiction are ever-present and might not be talked about back in high school.
But mental health concerns can strike anyone at any time. Maybe your depression kicked in after the loss of a loved one. Maybe seeking out divorce advice made the aspect of breaking up with your loved one more “real.” Even doing things that are good for your health in the long-term can adversely affect you in the present moment. These ups and downs are what make us human but few people know how to cope with these bad feelings when they arise.
Whether your mental health was changed because of genetic reasons or triggering circumstances (or a blend of the two), it’s okay to get help when you need it. This might take the form of counseling, prescription medication, or a new health plan prescribed by your doctor. Counseling services and self-help books can be great ways to learn about self-soothing methods that can break you out of a panic attack. Therapists might be able to help you improve your communication to better explain how you’re feeling to others. People go to therapy for a range of reasons, whether it be because of a sudden crisis or a longstanding issue. The important thing is that you’re getting help when your mental health needs it most.
Healthcare is ever-changing
If you think keeping up with the newest iPhone release is hard, take a look at the medical community: it seems like there is a new way to do things each and every day.
Take telemedicine for example. What wasn’t available to us a mere 10 years ago has swiftly become one of the primary ways that doctors are able to see their patients. These virtual medical appointments are great for widespread health concerns, like the recent coronavirus pandemic. But they’re also great for folks with disabilities that can’t leave their home. Telehealth helps people in rural areas connect with a doctor and they’re great for autistic and agoraphobic individuals who can’t bear the thought of sitting in the waiting room.
While we haven’t figured out how to perform reconstructive surgery from afar, there have also been innovations in that field. Modern technologies use state-of-the-art equipment to monitor vital signs while LASIK surgeries rely on a small laser to completely change one’s vision. The stigma surrounding cosmetic surgeries has also begun to change as more people choose to do what they want with their health instead of being influenced by outside sources. Nowadays, many of the people you see have had facelifts, nose jobs, and tummy tucks to feel more confident in their appearance. It’s not uncommon to look at surgeries like these as akin to getting braces.
The way we staff our health professionals is also changing. We used to have a primary care physician and access to the emergency room: that’s it. Now, we’re seeing a rising number of urgent care clinics employ doctors’ aids, nurses, and more. Specialists are becoming even more focused on one aspect of their career. It wouldn’t be uncommon to learn about Down syndrome from a professional with ample experience in Down syndrome specifically. More avenues are being created for people to explore their passions, niche interests, and help underrepresented communities.
More people are also investing in travel nursing jobs so patients might not see the same person each time they visit the doctor. And the advent of the telehealth industry has led to some practices relying solely on virtual care practices. When you want to learn about health, it’s important to know about the industry you’re employing.
More people are thinking about death
Making the effort to learn about health as it pertains to your lifestyle is important. But an often overlooked aspect of healthcare is death, especially on a person to person basis.
It makes sense: talking about death can make a lot of people feel uncomfortable. Few people want to consider the prospect of their pet dying, let alone a member of their family or themselves.
We have to start thinking about death in a healthier way if we’re going to make the right decisions. After all, a sudden death can leave members of a family feeling lost, confused, and more than a little grief-stricken. However, if the deceased individual left a living will or previously explained to their loved ones how they wish to die, the whole process can be a lot less stressful on the people left behind.
While these are difficult conversations to have, they are important to discuss. Talk to your spouse about life support and the possibility of being kept alive in a coma. Let your loved one know if you would rather be buried in a casket or if you would rather opt for cremation services. Talk about if organ donation is something you’re passionate about. If your family knows how to honor you when you pass, they will feel a lot less stressed and guilty about making decisions that could be the wrong one.
These kinds of conversations can also be a kick in the butt to invest in your health sooner than later. Taking part in safer driving practices is great, but knowing the number of your local accident attorneys is even better. Making the effort to learn about health in schools is nice, but talking to your child’s administrator can help future generations in the long term. It’s thanks to these small efforts that a domino effect can result in positive change in your life.
Learn about health, both for you and your loved ones
Reading this piece to learn about health in the modern day is important, but it’s only a first step. Making the effort to learn about health is a lifelong study that will likely continue to change as we grow older. Each day, there’s a new virus threatening our health or a new study saying that milk is good again — or bad again, or good again — but it’s up to us to seek out this information. Make the choice to learn about health in order to help yourself and others. You’ll be glad that you did.