The back-to-school health checklist

Susannah Hickling

When you were young, you got ready for the new school year with new clothes, a haircut and a sensible routine. As an adult you can make a fresh start too

Get on top of health checks.

Be proactive about your health. This means catching up on any recommended tests you’ve been putting off, such as cervical smears, mammograms, bone density and that over-fifties check-up your GP’s surgery offers you. Don’t forget to schedule a trip to the dentist and make sure you get your eyes tested if you haven’t been to the optician’s for a couple of years. You might want to spread out all those appointments over several months. Just make sure you set yourself a deadline.

 

Set new fitness goals or start a new sport.

And then find a regular slot for it in your busy timetable. There are lots of new classes starting up in September, so there’s plenty of choice if you want to get active. What’s more, the weather’s still good enough to begin an outdoor activity, such as running, cycling or even a gentle ramble with a friend. Regular exercise not only sets us on the road to health, but also helps us deal with stress and boost energy levels.

 

Refresh your wardrobe to make you feel empowered.

Getting some new outfits and a fresh trim at the hairdresser’s helps you feel stylish and, quite simply, a whole lot better about yourself. If you’re strapped for cash, buy one item to complement something you already have, or an accessory.

 

Make new friendships or renew the ones you have.

There’s ample evidence that friends bring all kinds of benefits—from lowering stress levels to actually helping you live longer. And that’s before you even consider the social and mental health advantages. Join a new club with like-minded people, or reconnect with an existing pal by making time for a quick coffee or picking up the phone. And make sure it’s not just a one-off—have regular contact with your friends to reap the health benefits.

 

Get organised.

Feeling that your life and possessions are out of control is very stressful. Use this post-holiday period to tidy up some of the key areas in your home. It could be your hall, your living area or that spot on your kitchen counter where everyone dumps stuff. Keep it manageable—even bringing order to a small space can make you feel as if a weight has been lifted.

 

Go to bed earlier.

You need at least seven hours of sleep for good health. The good news is that September is the best month to reset your rest routine. The days start to get shorter and colder and we get less vitamin D, which makes us want to hibernate. Put down all devices—phones and tablets—45 minutes before lights out and banish all screens, including the telly, from your bedroom. Soothe your mind ready for a good night’s zzzs by reading, taking a bath or meditating before bed.


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