Summer is over. The kids are back in school, and it’s time to take a deep breath and spend some time taking care of yourself before the holidays arrive. Everyone needs to take steps to relax and minimize the effects of life’s everyday stresses. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Get a physical. Busy people often wait until they get sick to see a doctor. Even if you feel perfectly healthy, it is important to get regular medical exams as a preventative step. Most of us don’t keep track of when our vaccinations should be updated, but your doctor will make sure that you are up-to-date, preventing unnecessary exposure to serious diseases. In addition, a physical will ensure that any undiagnosed medical problems, such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, are caught before they lead to serious health complications.
- Schedule some downtime. A state of constant motion and busyness is not conducive to peace of mind—or productivity. In fact, if you don’t give your mind and body a break, you are actually likely to be less productive. Don’t just hope that you will have a free moment now and then. Instead, schedule that time for yourself to guarantee that it will actually occur. Be humble enough to realize that the rest of the world will continue to function just fine even if you are not around for half an hour!
- Drink enough water. You may already know that your body is composed of 60% water—and drinking sufficient water is essential for your body to function well. The fluids in your body are necessary for digestion, absorption, and transportation of nutrients, blood circulation, creation of saliva, kidney and bowel function, and maintaining proper body temperature. In addition, drinking water instead of high-calorie beverages and eating food with high water content (fruits, vegetables, soups, beans, etc.) can help you lose weight. Water intake is important during physical exercise as well, as dehydration can result in muscle fatigue. Last but not least, dehydration can make your skin appear dry and wrinkled, so staying hydrated even helps you look healthier.
- Exercise regularly. Obviously, exercise has many health benefits: It helps prevent or manage conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, stroke, and many types of cancer, and it can help you control your weight. As you get older, exercise can help your bones stay strong, lessening the effects of osteoporosis. Exercise can even help relieve depression and anxiety because it stimulates the brain to release chemicals that elevate your mood, making you feel happier, and less stressed. People who exercise regularly also have more energy because they have stronger muscles and a cardiovascular system that works more efficiently, and are often able to get deeper and better sleep.
- Get your finances and estate plan in order. According to the American Psychological Association, money is a major source of stress for many Americans. You can take steps to lessen money-related anxiety by planning for both the present and the future.
- Make a budget. Without a spending plan, your hard-earned money can seem to disappear into a black hole, never to be seen again. Many people who are not in the habit of keeping a budget would be shocked to learn of the amount they spend on unnecessary items. To the contrary, when you establish a budget, you can prioritize your spending to ensure that you will have sufficient savings for things that you really need, eliminating the stress of running out of money at the end of the month. It will also help you achieve your goals, for example, eliminating or avoiding debt, saving for retirement, or setting aside money for a new car or a vacation.
- See a financial planner. A financial advisor can help you think through your long-term financial goals—for example, eliminating debt, establishing emergency funds, or setting up a retirement account—and come up with a plan to help you achieve them. Regardless of what stage of life you are in, regular meetings with a financial expert can provide substantial peace of mind by ensuring that a plan aimed at creating and maintaining your financial security (and that of your family) is in place.
- Create an estate plan. Most people worry about what will happen to their spouse, children, or pets if anything happens to them. You can alleviate this concern by consulting an estate planning attorney who can help you draft a will and/or trust and other estate planning documents to put your wishes and plans in writing. Having a proper plan in place helps ensure your wishes regarding the care of any minor children or pets, including naming caregivers and setting aside funds for care, are documented before you become ill or pass away. In addition, you can designate people to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf in case you become incapacitated. Creating an estate plan with these components will put your mind at ease by ensuring that your wishes are documented and honored, instead of having state law designate who will receive your assets and how they are distributed, or having a court appoint the person who will take care of your children.