Did you take your vitamins today, get eight hours of sleep and eat 5 servings of veggies? Are you taking care of your diet, eating less saturated fat and getting plenty of exercise. If these questions make you anxious then chances are you are causing undue stress by worrying about your health.Preaching different health mantras has become a favorite subject of the media – including television shows, dedicated magazines, websites, blogs and newspaper columns(like this one!). We are inundated with information, sometimes contradictory and confusing and many times scaring us into believing that if we do not follow the advice given, we will be easy targets for heart attacks, diabetes and other such diseases. Reduce weight, exercise more, eat more fiber, turn to the best diets including fruititarian, vegan, low cholesterol, do the right exercises for at least an hour a day, consume the best ingredients to ward off colds and follow the tenets of how to achieve a longer life are a few of the news that we are flooded with daily.
Identifying and achieving the rules of healthier living is not an easy task. Remember — stress is one of the major causes of various ailments and although it is necessary to take care of your health worrying about it will cause you more harm than good. This is different from hypochondria where one actually feels symptoms and thinks he is sick. This is pure worrying turned anxiety – mainly created by the deluge of information that we see and read every day.
Dr. Bhooshan Shukla, child psychiatrist at Joshi Hospital, comments that many of his patients’ parents are overly concerned about the health of their children as well as their own. “Do not read books or information about health – read love stories or joke books instead. Most of the information that is published is advertising. Articles cite some research which is by no means extensive and the results only help the product being marketed,” he says.
Google adds fuel to the fire. Searching on the net for ailments behind certain symptoms you may have many times results in worst case scenarios. For example a search for the symptom of “stomach pain” results in all different diagnosis possibilities including appendicitis, colitis, diverticulitis and gastric cancer. Chances of any of such a severe diagnosis is rare, and most likely you have a case of gas. A change in diet or eating something such as some ginger would be the best cure – there is no need to worry about it being something more severe.“You should be vigilant and get regular checkups yearly but an investigation for every ache and pain is not necessary,” cautions Dr. Shukla.
A common sense approach to health is necessary to lead a fulfilling healthy life. Quit obsessing about your health and live life happily:
• Use moderation for everything. This is the key to happiness. Do not deny yourself anything including occasional desserts or vodka tonics.
• Eat something fresh and raw every day. An apple, a carrot, banana or the like – your body will thank you. But if this is not possible don’t worry about it. Do not obsess about what you eat or do not eat. Stop thinking about the perfect diet and be sensible. You know that fruits and vegetables are good for you so eat as many as is possible for the day. One day you may be so busy that all you have eaten are Maggie noodles and batata vada. This is okay, just go back to eating healthy as soon as your busy period is over.
• Get some physical activity every day. You need not sweat it out in the gym with a personal trainer for one hour. A brisk walk, surya namaskars, cleaning you house, gardening, a dance class or anything you may enjoy all fill the criteria for physical activity. Take pleasure in keeping your body active.
• Have a hobby or do something you enjoy doing. Whether it is reading, painting, cooking, or simply reading recipe books, it should be enjoyable and make you happy.
Health is not something you can ever maintain perfectly – there will always be some things out of your control. Aging is natural and you body cannot remain the same forever. A balanced diet, simple exercises, and a relaxed mind is all it takes to preserve normal health. So stop worrying about your health, do not overindulge and be happy. But remember if you cannot follow any of these points – don’t worry!
Published in Pune Mirror, March 21, 2011