Go Your Own Way: Mistakes Other People Make Regarding Their Health

[College Degrees 360 / Flickr]

Have you ever felt that it’s impossible to keep up with all the things that you shouldn’t do?

After all, we live in a world where it’s not just the obvious – such as smoking – that can kill us. It turns out there are nasty chemicals hidden in our mattresses, the very air we breathe and even those scented candles we love so much. We shouldn’t use products containing X, Y and Z chemical compounds. We shouldn’t sleep too much. Don’t stretch after exercise. Don’t take out dental insurance. Don’t, don’t, don’t.

If you tried to make a list of all the things that newspapers, blogs, and even experts recommend we don’t do, you’d run out of space. It’s hard to keep track at the best of times, then something new to avoid gets added on an almost daily basis.

Then again, it’s not easy to remember what you should do either.

You should eat fruit! At least, that’s what most of us spent our childhoods hearing. Then as an adult, we learn how high the sugar content in fruit is. So juice it? No, that’s problematic as well. You’ve learned you shouldn’t stretch after exercise, so is before exercise okay? Two people say two different things. And is my scented candle going to give me cancer?

Onward it goes, to the point where you begin to wonder if there is anything that is safe. There seems to be competing viewpoints arguing for and against almost anything – so how can you find the way through?

You may now be thinking I’m going to start debunking myths and making recommendations. But that doesn’t solve the problem, does it? It’s just another pile of advice on top of thousands of other little bits of information. The cycle never stops – until today.

Instead, I’m going to share with you a few ideas of what people do when they’re trying to pursue a healthy lifestyle. To be more specific, I’m going to share what they do wrong. Sometimes, one of the best ways of learning how to behave is to know how not to behave. One of the major issues with the plethora of advice we’re now all on the receiving end of is how it strips us of our abilities to make decisions. So I’m going to empower you; by pointing out the wrongs but not pointing out the rights. You should be able to extrapolate the correct alterations by knowing the pitfalls, and you’ll be better for it too.

  1. Following All Advice As If It’s Gospel

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[Blue Diamond Gallery]

So, you’re online. You decide to look for a recipe for something different to cook this weekend, having tired of the same old things you perfected in college. In searching for said recipe, you fall down a hole of advice so huge that it swallows you whole.

There are so many different ways of eating. There are proponents of being low-fat, mid-fat, no fat and any fat you want, for example. All argue the case with such fervor you have to wonder how any of them could be incorrect.

There is an eternal truth that sometimes, the reality is in the middle of an argument. The same applies to food. If you subscribe to one specific way of thinking – be it paleo, low GI and similar – then you effectively join a tribe. The problem then becomes that you exist in an echo chamber.

Combining that with confirmation bias is a dangerous risk, and it’s a trap so many people fall into. People have become seriously ill through trying to eat “clean”; people have fallen ill through not eating “clean” enough. It’s when you do something to the point of becoming a fanatic that the problems begin.

  1. They Don’t Prepare – Or They Prepare Too Much

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[Fotownetrza / PixaBay]

There is a simple reality in that, sometimes, the choices we make about our health are not voluntary ones. Instead, we do the things we do because of restrictions. They might be financial, in terms of not having enough time or a million and one other variables. The idea that you should “prioritize your health” is asinine. We all know we should, but that doesn’t magically make it possible to do so.

As a result of this confusion and over-tasking of stressed minds, some people just don’t prepare. They don’t think about the health coverage they need. They don’t think about what they would do and how they would pay for it if they needed a tooth extraction on the weekend. They don’t know the symptoms of common illnesses so they can identify them quickly.

They leave all of those things up to chance. They hope the worst won’t happen, but of course, sometimes it’s going to. No one has an endless run of good luck.

On the other hand, it is possible to go too far. Having good health coverage, knowing of services like www.saturdaydentist.org and being aware of warning health signs – that’s positive. That means you’re in charge. However, some people go too far the other way to the point of ruining the moment. They become so fixated on the “what if?” that they drain all possible enjoyment out of life.

  1. In Trying To Maintain Physical Health, They Cause Damage In Other Ways

Over the past 50 years, public health initiatives have raised our awareness of many conditions. In the most part, this is a positive thing and is helping people maintain healthy lives.

On the downside, its lead to a rise in a condition known as Health Anxiety. This is when paranoia and fears about health become pathological, moving from the mindful to the paranoid. It’s a particularly severe anxiety condition to manage. The idea that we should be vigilant about our health screams at us from every angle – Health Anxiety is just about being vigilant. We all know that many illnesses are best managed if they’re identified early, so what’s wrong with keeping a watch out?

When keeping a watch becomes a primary focus, it’s gone too far. In the pursuit of good physical health, you damage your mental health by taking it to extremes.

  1. They Don’t Give Themselves A Break

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[Kaboom Pics / PixaBay]

With Christmas coming up, let’s imagine an easy scenario. You have a family gathering, serve wine, but someone refuses. Fine: not everyone likes to drink. But then the same person refuses the bread, anything sweet, and asks for protein grams on the turkey. Then the questions about the vegetables – are they organic? – begin. With unsatisfactory answers, this person is soon shuffling food around their plate and not eating much. The joy is soon sucked out of the moment.

That person is technically doing the right thing. They are watching their diet, adhering to a plan and eating according to an ethos they believe in. But it’s also Christmas, and their questioning is damaging for everyone.

By refusing to take a day off any health regime – be it eating, exercise or whatever – you’re doing more mental harm. We all need a little time to recharge every once in awhile, to let our guard down and just live in the moment.

After reading the above, hopefully, you will have some ideas of the areas you need to avoid. You can piece together your attitude to health, walking a balance beam of confusion in a way that suits you. It’s a complex subject that is permanently evolving, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to make it work for you.

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