As we have all heard, this month began open enrollment for the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Many families will be taking the opportunity to acquire health coverage under this new provision of the Affordable Care Act.
While this has been a divisive issue, to say the least, it has brought the whole nation to talk about healthcare, health, and wellness. And because of all of the free screenings and health awareness services that are expected to be part of health insurance offerings both this year and next, one bright side has been that of bringing attention to prevention.
Why? Because in most cases prevention does not need a mandate.
Here are 5 things you can do right now to bring about healthy living – insurance or not:
- Get essential nutrients from seasonal fruits and vegetables. Fall is the perfect time to enjoy the bounty of seasonal produce tastes and freshness. If you’re not sure what is season, the Natural Resources Defense Council has a terrific interactive online tool to help you learn what would be seasonal in your area and your region. Look for produce in your grocery store’s organic section or at the local farmers market. And eat a variety of produce, including different colors. Green, red, orange, yellow.
- Pull back on a sugary holidays. Before we known it, Halloween will be upon us. This begins what I call the “sugar season.” Everywhere you turn there is leftover Halloween candy, and then come the holiday baked goods and candies for Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s lots of temptations. And more sugar can affect your immune system and cause weight gain. But, by keeping lower-sugar, healthier snacks on hand, you can help to curtail the urge to sugar binge. Examples: fiber-rich crackers, pre-cut veggies, easy-to-eat fruits, and small amounts of nuts. Mix up the protein and fiber to curb your appetite. Also, keep alcohol to a minimum – alcohol can induce sugar cravings.
- Reduce your stress. 60-to-90 percent of all doctor visits are because of stress. Stress can come from many places – your job, your marriage, family issues, problems in your neighborhood, or even getting caught up in the news and politics of the day. While there are some things out of your control, you’d be surprised how much control you have over stress if you center yourself, meditate, seek spiritual guidance, learn positive affirmation techniques, make forward-moving goals, and enlist help from optimistic others. Take the first step by simply taking 15 minutes each day (without your mobile phone) to take a walk in the sunshine, breathe deeply, and stretch your back and shoulders.
- Get regular sleep. Even adults need ideally 7-to-9 hours of sleep each night to feel their best during the day. If you are getting less sleep or disrupted sleep, then it can cause increased stress, weight gain, and other hormone issues. Go to bed at the same time each night. This helps to set your internal clock for getting tired and waking up. Avoid eating late. And avoid caffeine in the evening. You want to turn down the lights, turn off the TV, and wind down (not up) to go to bed.
- Leave time for exercise. Even as the days become shorter and the weather changes, make sure you schedule in exercise. It may require a conscious effort on your part.Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress. And if you’re able to go outdoors into greenery, no matter the weather, the nature setting and color green have a soothing and focusing effect on your mind.