The Health Stuff You Shouldn’t Ignore In Your 20s
Investing in a little self-care in your 20s and 30s can certainly reap benefits down the track, and forming good habits doesn’t need to be as regimented as you might believe.
Looking after yourself isn’t just about getting 7-9 hours sleep per night, eating 5-10 portions of fruit and veggies a day and downing 9 cups of water.
It’s easy not to worry about this stuff while you’re young, especially with your career, social life, family commitments and the need for down-time really ramping up in your 20s. Here are 5 healthy habits to stay on top of.
Getting fit while you’ve got the get up and go of a 20-something means you’re going to have a better chance of remaining healthy later in life. Not exercising impacts risk factors for disease, and comes in second to smoking for factors contributing to Australia’s heath problems.
Just 30 minutes a day can help with things like a healthier heart, energy levels and lowering risks of diabetes, cancers, anxiety and depression.
How to get started
Find something you enjoy! You’re not going to stick it out if it’s a drag. Maybe you have a really stimulating job that calls for downtime a few times a week. You could try solitary exercise such as yoga, walking or swimming.
Or the inverse – you might be looking to throw socialising and exercise in the same bag. Team sports are a good way to incorporate the two.
Get bored of repetition easily? Find a gym that offers multiple classes and mix up your workouts. Even a walk around the block or during your lunchbreak adds up.
Make your mental health a priority
There’s something to be said for forming positive habits and applying them to your mental health. Investing in taking time for yourself and knowing how to spot warning signs is something that may take a little time and discovery, but it can be invaluable.
Study, careers, social lives and families can all seem relentless at times, and you can slip onto autopilot and become burnt-out before even realising. Whether it’s taking small steps to stress less, or acknowledging bigger issues like anxiety and depression (and getting a little help from professionals), you’re better off when you don’t ignore it.
Beyond Blue is a wonderful resource if you’re not too sure where to start – last year alone they helped around 150,000 Australian’s who reached out. You can chat online, give them a call, email, or join online forums. Around 1 in 5 of us suffer from conditions such as anxiety and depression, so don’t feel like you’re alone in this.
What can you do?
Don’t be complacent, even if you’re feeling ok. If mindfulness and meditation aren’t you’re thing, surrounding yourself people who make you laugh and bring out your happiest self may be.
If you’re not feeling ok? There’s an army of help out there for you. Turn to those you trust, and your GP who will be able to point you in the right direction for a helping hand.
Keep an eye on your pals, too. Have they been withdrawn lately? Is their physical appearance any different? They may need a shoulder or a friendly ear.
Some of us are really great at coping and appearing high-functioning, though. We still work, see friends, have hobbies, keep really busy, but sometimes this constant ‘being on the move’ is a warning sign in itself, and taking a little break to reset isn’t a bad thing.
Make ‘you’ a priority. Take breaks and rests and don’t be scared to say no to things every now and then. The joy of missing out is a thing, for those of us who missed the memo with FOMO.
Don’t put off your doctors appointments
It can seem like a drag, and at times uncomfortable, but don’t skip those yearly check-ups. Also, don’t wait for the yearly check-up to see your doc if you’re not feeling 100%. Try not to hold out on conversations surrounding family medical history, either – prevention is the best cure.
What does this look like?
Find a doctor you take seriously who makes you feel comfortable and explains things to you; it will make your trip so much easier. Chat general health, sexual health, digestive, nutritional, mental, preventative. Learn about that sacred vessel of a body of yours!
Steer clear of smoking
We’re not living in our parents’ generation anymore, and we all know the risks associated. Lucky for us, more Australians are kicking the habit, in particular young adults.
Here are a few not so great stats if you need a little shake-up:
- Smoking kills an estimated 15,000 Australians each year
- Smoking just 10 cigarettes a day doubles your risk of dying. 25 per day? Four-fold.
- Smokers die an average of 10 years earlier than non-smokers
Stay sun safe
In 1981, one of the most successful health campaigns in Australia’s history was launched: Slip! Slop! Slap! Whilst the animations are a little dated these days, Sid the seagull’s message still packs a punch (he’s even added ‘Seek’ and ‘Slide’!)
You know what’s a cinch? Making sunscreen part of your skincare routine. Gone are the days of horribly thick zinc and cakey white paste for your face. There are a lot of better alternatives out there these days, a lot of which can be added, or may already be an additive, in your moisturiser.
Let’s heed the advice and education on the risks of skins cancers, everyone can play their part in reducing these risks with a few simple precautions, including having your skin checked by a specialist. Sid’s still spot on: protective clothing, sunscreen, a hat, shade and sunnies are your winners.
Emily is an arts administrator with a background in writing and music. By day, she works at the ANU School of Music, and by night she moonlights as a contributing writer, the Communications Coordinator and Secretary for MusicACT, and dabbles in freelance marketing, social media and communications for the arts.