Carolina Partners In Mental Healthcare, PLLC

Preventing Illness and Injury - Cindy Saleeby Goulding, MS, LPC, Ncc, Cpt, Cwc

Most of us have probably experienced a set back in our life, whether it was an injury or illness. It can really interfere with our daily routine and disrupt what we want to do, adding stress into our lives. Here are some tips to avoid unwanted illnesses or injuries:

Get restful sleep. Sleep is often underrated. One of the most important things you can do for your health is to attain restful, quality sleep. If you don’t feel rested 30 minutes after waking up, chances are you are not getting enough quality sleep. When you are tired, you tend to have low energy and can be irritable. Your body also craves high fat and sugary foods/drinks, which can lead to illness. When you are tired, you are less likely to exercise, which can affect sleep quality and stress levels. Your risk of injuring yourself is higher when you tired. Getting into car accidents, poor balance (and falling), and impaired concentration are some products of poor sleep. According to an article written by Mary Desaulniers in “Health Guidance”, “Research shows that the sleeping period of drivers who are involved in road accidents are shorter than the ones of those who had sufficient sleep. Sleepiness is very much like being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When you are sleepy, your mental and psychomotor skills diminish.” You can improve your sleep by:

• adding exercise into your daily routine
• avoiding caffeine and sugar after the morning
• taking time to wind down an hour before bedtime (turning off any loud TV/music, taking a warm bath, turning off lights, sleeping in a dark, cool, comfortable bedroom with no distractions)
• getting 8 hours of sleep

Manage/reduce stress. Stressors (the events we perceive as stressful) are always going to be there. Often times, we don’t even have control over them. A car accident, losing a job, a challenging coworker or family member, moving, getting married are all examples of stressors. What’s important here is how we perceive the stressor, not the stressor itself. For example, you can perceive losing a job as a very negative event or see it as an opportunity to do something new and different. Stress can deplete your immune system, making you more prone to getting sick. Chronic stress can lead to disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and other illnesses. You can reduce stress by:

• changing the way you think about something/someone
• engaging in physical activity (exercise) on a regular basis
• making ‘me’ time (do something you enjoy, have a hobby)
• meditating
• getting restful sleep
• eating healthy foods

Get moderate amounts of exercise. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins (your ‘good mood’ chemicals in your brain and stomach). Endorphins are your body’s natural pain killers, and they also enhance your mood. Exercise actually helps with alleviating, preventing or stabilizing a lot of disease, including anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugars, high cholesterol, arthritis, cancer, insomnia, constipation and so many other forms of disease. Certain types of exercise that focus on your balance can prevent falls, and therefore, avoid injuries. Exercise that is moderate and performed with proper form can also prevent injury.