To some degree, even the most disorganized of us has a “method to the madness.” We are creatures of comfort, and often habits create feelings of calm, comfort and a sense of control in a crazy, upside down world. We love that morning cup o’ Jo. We haunt the same restaurants and grocery stores. We have nightly rituals that calm us before going to bed.
Some of these habits are good; some, ummmhh, not so much. Here’s a list of the Top 5 Health Hygiene Habits that have changed my health and my life dramatically for the better. But I’m no show off. I’m also going to share my Top 5 Worst Health Hygiene Habits, my dirty little secrets, those I’m working to improve, or have overcome to some degree, learning in the process that dropping these habits like flies or a bad boyfriend has lightened my load in life considerably!
5) Sonicare Dental Care – Many years ago, my mother bought me a Sonicare toothbrush for Christmas. No, she
wasn’t dropping a concealed hint about my dragon breath. I actually asked for the Christmas present.
At the time, a Sonicare was way outside my budget. But the Sonicare line of toothbrushes (now $39-$249) has changed my dental health and my life! I LOVE BRUSHING my teeth, and I haven’t had a cavity since! The brush gives subtle prompts telling you how long and where to brush. It’s truly revolutionary, and the clean teeth feeling I get is unbeatable. I now love to brush, even more than the recommended twice a day for 2 minutes each. 🙂
4) Proactiv Skin Care – I promise I’m not getting paid to tout the benefits of these products!
I am fortunate to have come from a line of women with beautiful skin and great skin hygiene. My grandmother has initiated each girl in the family at 12 or 13 by taking us to the Clinique counter at Dillard’s to learn the 3-step cleansing process. My 80-year-old grandmother still has beautiful skin. She keeps her morning and nightly regimen religiously. Now that I’m much older, I’ve moved into products that pack a little more umph. The Proactiv line of skin care products is THE ONLY skin hygiene regimen I have ever kept (Sorry, Nana!). The basic 3-step process has changed my aging skin in a way that is noticeably different. I thought it was mainly a product for those who suffer from Acne, but when I used it on my skin, WOW! It turned my dull looking, sometimes even gray-ish skin into a vibrant, healthy and glowing blush day in and day out. It’s affordable, and I’m here to tell you; it produces results!
3) Tea Time – A few years ago, an Englishwoman taught me the delights of the ritual of British tea time. I now
have tea often – at 3:00 in the afternoon with a small sweet treat, and I fancy a similar nightly ritual.
The best thing about teas, for me, is that there is an endless variety, so my nightly indulgence never gets boring. There are teas designed to help with every ailment from constipation to respiratory health to those created to enhance mood and mental clarity. Do these teas actually “work?” For me, yes. Even if it’s psychosomatic, it’s a great feeling to know that you’re intentionally drinking to your health, and a warm cup o’ tea, no matter what kind or what time of day, seems to have a powerful ability to soothe.
2) Drinking lots of water – For many years now, I have binged delightfully upon great-tasting water, and I have
found that not all waters are created equally.
My favorite “daily drinker” is Sparkletts. My husband and I bought an upright cooler from Sam’s a few years ago, and it’s one of the best investments in our health we’ve ever made. Cold, tasty water at your fingertips 24/7, and the unit even has a knob for hot water which equals perfect tasting at-the-ready tea, too! I seldom drink sodas, diet or otherwise, or any other sugary beverages now.
For times when I’m feeling festive, I drink Topo Chico. It’s a sparkling mineral water, made in Mexico, and is much cheaper than its fancy European cousins. I drink it with a squeeze of lime, or sometimes I add it to a healthy no-sugar-added juice to cut the calories and give the juice a festive, fizzy flavor. This concoction is a fun drink for kids too! Pick your juice; add as much or as little fizz as you like; then top it off with your favorite pieces of fruit!
I actually crave the taste of my favorite waters now. You will seldom find me without my reusable water bottle, the S’well! It keeps cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours, and hot drinks hot for up to 12 hours. It’s insulated stainless steel, so NO PLASTIC and EASY TO CLEAN! Yay! I tout my favorite water tote to anyone who will listen, and I often give them as gifts. At $35 each, they are worth every single penny.
1) Daily Vitamins & Supplements – Oh, how I used to dread taking even a multivitamin in the morning, horse pills that taste like iron and B-12. Yuk. When I decided to suck it up and swallow all my objections, I learned the benefits of a steady regimen of vitamins and doctor-approved supplements. I now feel a sense of great pride over my morning ritual of waking up and immediately taking control of my health and well-being for the day. In kind-of an OCD fashion,
I line the bottles up by size and take them in the same order every morning. For me, this is the easiest set-up to ensure I don’t forget anything! I take a liquid or gummy multi-vitamin (instead of the horse pills!); a D3 Supplement for bone health and calcium absorption; a vanilla-coated Omega 3 supplement for healthy cardiovascular function, optimal triglyceride and cholesterol and healthy joint and nervous system function; a probiotic for healthy digestion and improved nutrient absorption; an adrenal system supplement to help strengthen those little stress-fighting glands who are always under attack; and an OTC stool softener since I have trouble with constipation and digestion OFTEN. After a solid month of taking this regimen every single morning, not missing even one day, I can say I have more energy and vibrance than I’ve had in the entire year prior! No joke. I do not believe that taking supplements is literally flushing money down the toilet. It’s a solid investment into my health; a way to take control of the parts of my healthcare that I can, and an excellent self esteem booster to boot!
**BONUS** Allopathic or Integrative Care – I see this as a luxury, but a necessary one. The definition of Integrative Medicine is – “an approach to care that puts the patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health. Employing a personalized strategy that considers the patient’s unique conditions, needs and circumstances, it uses the most appropriate interventions from an array of scientific disciplines to heal illness and disease and help people regain and maintain optimum health.”
SOURCE* Duke University
I have switched to an integrative physician as my primary care provider, and the methods he employs encompass a much more scientific approach to care, searching for the source of subprime health and focusing on restoring health as the goal, not simply alleviating an array of symptoms through pharmaceuticals. I’ve been “prescribed” everything from diet changes to physical therapy to nutrient-based supplementation to doctor’s orders to rest and avoid specific known stressors. I find this whole-health perspective to be based upon the latest relevant science, rather than the latest pharmaceutical or medical device. It’s also a program designed specifically for me, and is not limited simply to “conventional methods.” He also takes the most conservative approach to healing, i.e. healing through science-supported, healthy strategies for living, supporting the body’s own mechanisms for health and immunity and any invasive procedure as an ultimate last resort. It just makes common sense to me. The difficulty can be visiting an allopathic or integrative physician who takes insurance. According to my doctor, he wants to treat patients on the basis of their needs, not what insurance will or will not pay for, so he has a cash model and doesn’t accept insurance at all. A smart strategy for someone who doesn’t want to “play the game” of healthcare. No kickbacks for breaking out the prescription pad, no chance that he will over-treat or overprescribe based on pharma and med device care sales rep visits.
MY SHADY BAD HABITS! – Yep, I’m airing my dirty laundry, and my husband is sitting right next to me, holding me accountable to tell you the truth!
5) Allowing myself to run out of steam – I have learned some better coping skills for keeping my level of activity within healthy limits. When I have truly run out of steam, it comes down on me like a freight train and can sometimes keep me in bed for a whole day! Now that I know my limits better, it’s my responsibility to make sure I don’t push outside them.
4) Unhealthy eating habits – including skipping meals, waiting too long to eat and eating empty carbs (ice cream at night!). Especially when skipping meals, when the time comes to eat, I am more apt to overeat, which is not good either. I’m learning to keep my hunger at a minimum and never to let my energy tank run down to empty. I carry healthy snacks that need not be refrigerated so that I can manage hunger on the go without stopping at a Starbucks or Dairy Queen (oh my gosh, did you know that the April Blizzard is Salted Carmel Truffle!) Oops, I did it again.
3) Overextending myself with everything! Work, physical activity, emotional availability to others, etc. and leaving nothing for myself or for those who truly care for me. There is a balance to be learned for us all, but especially as a patient advocate, I tend to want to do for others in need and neglect myself and my own family, a bad habit I’m working hard to break.
2) Ok, this one is gross! Confession time here. I have a bad habit of, ahem, shall we say over-manicuring my toenails? I know, it’s weird, really weird. I always use sterile instruments, but it’s an anxiety-induced behavior, and I sometimes injure my toes badly enough that I can’t wear certain shoes! Definitely need to find another outlet for anxiety. 😦 There I said it. I feel all naked and embarrassed. Ewwww.
1) Holding my Breath (literally not breathing) – another anxiety induced habit, I’m sure. When I’m typing intently or on the phone having a difficult conversation, I hold my breath. I actually forget to breathe. Breathing deeply has been scientifically shown to lower blood pressure, anxiety and help calm our sympathetic nervous system – the body’s “fight or flight” mechanism. When we don’t breathe, we’re not giving our nervous system access to stimulate the process of calming us.
What are your GOOD HABITS? What BAD HABITS are you trying to break? Health hygiene covers everything from emotional self-care and keeping up your physical appearance to sticking with your treatment plans. Share with us – what healthy behaviors have helped you cope with your illness?