When do you take a stand?
You may be quite a quiet type, who prefers to demonstrate in the safety of your head or the polling booth.
Or you may be the strident, flag waving, megaphone toting campaigner ensuring your views are heard.
I am a blend of the two, erring more on the side of the quiet type. This week however I have rediscovered my strident side and realised that there are some areas where I unapologetically take a stand.
It will come as no surprise to you that this is around personal health and the responsibility we have for managing it.
I was at a two day conference last weekend (yes, for the eagle eyed reader, straight back from big skies of Iceland into the high rise of London, not my finest decision) and, during a panel discussion, a GP had the opportunity to talk.
She was explaining how in her practice she is challenged by her partners as she always runs late.
She told us that with a 10 minute appointment to do all the questions, testing and diagnosis plus the writing up of notes she also wants to engage with her clients so that they know she cares. In her notes she writes about the husband losing his job, or the brother’s wedding or the kids going to Uni. She says for every extra 2-3 minutes to spends with her clients she gets better adherence and commitment from her patients but of course she runs late and the partners aren’t too chuffed.
However when she was asked what could be done to improve the buckling of the NHS, she spoke of patients taking more responsibility for their health in the first place.
- Less drinking.
- More sleeping.
- More moving.
- More down time.
- More purpose.
- Less smoking.
- More fun.
- Less stress.
Many of the problems that people present their GP with are lifestyle issues.
- Not getting enough sleep will ultimately leave you more prone to accidents, illness and Ahlzheimer’s.
- Not eating vegetables will ultimately make you ill and leave you feeling tired and sluggish.
- Drinking a large glass of wine each night will interrupt your sleep and increase your midriff.
- Not moving beyond getting in the car and going to work will leave you feeling lethargic and injury prone.
- Working a 60 hour week doesn’t mean you’ve delivered 60 hours of quality work…
I am not suggesting for one moment that if you’re truly ill you shouldn’t go to the GP. But taking responsibility for doing the basics is, in my opinion, non-negotiable.
This is something I will stand for. Without this we are handing over the power of our health to these overworked health professionals in an overworked establishment.
The NHS is buckling under the strain of too many people struggling with lifestyle related conditions. Yes, many of these have gone too far and need professional help. But not all of them needed to and we could have not only saved the NHS a lot of time and money but also the emotional stress and hardship on ourselves and our families.
And I put myself in this boat too. I am not immune.
Whilst I may be genetically predisposed to an auto-immune condition, my lifestyle choices have switched that gene on.
I worked like a dog in my thirties teaching up to 25 exercises classes a week. My body looked pretty good, but I was completely exhausted. The immune system doesn’t respond well to that.
Add to that exhaustion a lack of good food choices for someone doing that level of activity. I used to eat a lot of bread, cereals, pasta, sugar, cereal bars, rice puddings, low fat yoghurts and processed meats and quick snacks. A body under that much stress from that much physical activity will only function so well on such a low level of nutrients.
We do have a duty to do what we can, to take care of ourselves not just for now, but for the future too.
What if you feel unexpectedly ill, would your body be well enough to heal?
What if you knew that the choices you made now would impact whether you got dementia in 20 years time?
How would you feel if you could no longer do what you take for granted because of a sudden life curve ball?
We can make a difference.
We can help improve our odds.
We can have a healthy (and fun) life now whilst looking after the future too.
It’s not about abstinence or deprivation. Rather about the quality of the choices you make.
This week, take a very close look at three lifestyle areas and decide where you can upgrade.
- Daily meals
- Weekend meals
- Family time
- Friends time
- Me time
Three areas, one thing per area. If in doubt, take a look here for some ideas – you’ll be helping the NHS too https://nhs.gifts/
It’s time to take a stand.