November is the month for focusing on men’s health, for men and anyone who has a man they care about in their life. Movember isn’t just about growing a goofy mustache. From physical check-ins to behavioral healthcare, take the time to elevate men’s health issues with yourself or the men around you. Whether you walk 60 miles in the month for the 60 men lost to suicide each hour around the world, or you make an appointment for a physical with your provider, take steps for health during Movember.
The road to health often lies in the little things: a lifetime of daily redirections, not one big push. Putting yourself first in small ways—both physically and mentally—helps you walk the road of long-lasting well-being, one step at a time. Here are a few of the daily choices men can make to prioritize their health, in November and every month.
Make an appointment at your neighborhood CHP health clinic for a physical. Keeping an eye on the basics of blood pressure, cholesterol and eye exams help track your well being in the long term, finding problems before they develop. A yearly checkup takes very little time and is one of the simplest things you can do to stay on top of your health.
Taking time to unwind is a vital part of staying healthy. Putting aside time off to do something you love will pay big returns when it comes to your physical and mental health. Maybe that’s fishing, reading a good book, or getting outside with the kids at a park or on a trail. Whatever relaxation is to you, make time to do it – it probably won’t make itself.
Studies have shown that social support—whether it comes from friends, family members or a spouse—is strongly associated with better mental and physical health. In fact, social habits can even boost the effects of already-healthy behaviors such as exercise. Work and other obligations can keep you busy, but it’s important to prioritize some social time with people you care for – not only for their sake, but for yours. Simple phone calls, watching a football game together or even working on chores together can help boost your mood and your body’s functions.
Eating right is easily one of the best things you can do for your overall health. But healthy eating isn’t always simple with busy schedules and limited budgets. Plus, “eating healthy” can be a weighted term with different meanings for different people. Incorporating more fruits and vegetables into your diet is a great place to start, allowing you to add more water, fiber and vitamins into your diet.
Sleep is often the first thing to fall by the wayside when you have a busy schedule and varied responsibilities. Most men need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night to function normally, but many don’t quite get there. That sleep debt can reduce memory and concentration, impacting performance in many aspects of life. Struggling to get enough sleep? Start with good before-bed habits. Put away cell phones and other screens for at least an hour before bed, dim the lights to create a relaxing atmosphere, and do something that gets you ready for bed, like reading, stretching or breathing deeply. Whatever your bedtime routine is, keep it consistent, and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day.
Take a deep drink of water when you wake up in the morning, and don’t forget to keep hydrated throughout the day. We get lots of water from the food we eat, too, but making the time for a glass or bottle of water throughout the day helps keep joints limber, prevent infection, and even regulate body temperature.
Ditching the cigarettes and chewing tobacco helps anyone make strides toward a more healthy lifestyle, by helping to reduce the risk of high blood pressure, lung disease and some cancers. Alcohol in small amounts isn’t necessarily detrimental, but excessive consumption can harm organs in the long run and impact personal relationships, too. And studies show that mixing the two can actually lead to increased risk of esophageal or throat cancer.
Increasing your heart rate through cardio or weight lifting (rather than stress, of course) goes a long way toward better health. Getting moving now will help you keep your body moving longer. Grab a friend and go for a walk or jog, or start hitting the gym together to hold each other accountable and make it more fun. If you have children, find some fun sports or activities you can do together that get you moving. Be sure to work within your body’s needs and limitations, and talk to your healthcare provider if you have questions about how to exercise safely.
For both physical support and mental health resources in Southwest Montana, CHP is your community health center that you can always reach out to. Get in touch to ask advice or schedule an appointment, and get access to affordable healthcare in your community.