Do you have a lucky number? Different cultures consider different digits to be lucky, with Western society traditionally favouring the number 7, and some Asian cultures regarding the number 6 as being extra-fortunate.
Of course, 6 is terrified of 7. How come? Because 7-8-9!
Seriously though, we at Don’t Change Much really do have a thing for the number 6. After all, we focus on helping guys like you improve your health in 6 key areas — nutrition, physical activity, alcohol consumption, better sleep, quitting smoking, and mental health — by taking small, easy steps. We’re all about encouraging you to care more about self-care, be it by visiting your family doctor and quit-smoking websites, downloading free ebooks packed with tips for living healthier, or by clicking on over to the free YouCheck.ca health awareness survey. Finally, it’s all about YOU!
It’s no coincidence that our 6 health-improvement categories are so similar to those embraced by the International Self-Care Foundation. With International Self-Care Day just around the corner, here are some easy ways to improve your health in all 6 of those important areas:
Physical activity: Walk it off!
Can walking improve your health? You bet it can! Plain and simple, the more you walk, the healthier you will become! Aim for 30 minutes of walking (or other physical activity) each day for five days a week. Walk around while you talk on the phone, walk on your lunch break, or get off the bus a few blocks early to walk the difference. Walking 5 city blocks a day can lower your risk of heart attack by 25 percent — it’s that simple and easy.
Nutrition: Shake it off!
Salt is everywhere in our diets and too much of it contributes to high blood pressure. This may lead to heart attacks, stroke & other health problems. Here are two easy ways to reduce the amount of salt in your food:
Take the salt shaker off the table. It’s hard at first, but you get used to it quickly.
Try to avoid products with more than 200mg of sodium per serving. Also note how many servings are in a package on the Nutrition Facts label.
Mental health: Get out and have fun!
Plan a night out with friends a couple of times a month. Go to a movie, the pub, a walk, bowling, anything where you can hang out and have fun. If you can’t plan a night out with the guys, then go solo and find an event or join a special interest club — anything that gets you out and around other people is good for your overall health.
Alcohol consumption: Water, booze, repeat
When you go to the pub with your buds, drink a big glass of water right off the bat. Then chase every bourbon, scotch or beer with another tall glass of H2O. You’ll feel better, and it won’t add a cent to your tab. On that note, aim to knock back no more than three drinks per day, with two alcohol-free days per week.
Sleeping better: Choose the dark side
To get a solid night’s sleep — 7 to 8 hours is the sweet spot — block all the light sources from your bedroom and cover the LED lights on your electronics. Our brains are programmed to wake when it’s light and sleep when it’s dark.
Quitting smoking: Know your triggers
Do you tend to smoke in bars, at parties and at other social events? Do you feel a powerful craving for a cigarette after finishing a meal? Does break time at work mean it’s time to step out and light one up? These are just a few examples of “triggers” that may cause you to crave a smoke. These triggers can be people, places, situations, feelings or moods. Knowing your triggers will help you avoid them or find ways to handle them — and you won’t need luck to do it!
Adam Bisby is a Toronto-based freelance journalist and father of two. His award-winning stories have appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post newspapers, in magazines like Explore, Reader’s Digest, International Traveller and Canadian Family, and on websites including MSN, MSN Canada, and DontChangeMuch.ca. Visit Adam’s website for more details on his award winning work.