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Healthy Lifestyle Checklists: Family, Friends & YOU

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girl sitting at a desk with her feet up making a to-do list; Healthy Lifestyle Checklists for Family, Friends & YOU

Spring is a great time to clean and prepare for the warmer seasons ahead. That could include clearing out closets, deep cleaning a bathroom or rearranging the kitchen junk drawer. While you’re getting more organized, don’t forget about the health of family, friends and, most importantly, YOU. Dr. Patricia Newland, UnityPoint Health, offers these suggestions for healthy lifestyle checklists.

Family Healthy Lifestyle Checklist 

This time of year, it’s fun to plan for the summer. But don’t forget to plan for your family’s health. Here are four checklist items to think through the spring.

1. Schedule Needed Appointments 

It’s important for kids and adults alike to have an annual physical. If the pandemic put your doctor visits on hold, make sure you call your clinic, or use your MyUnityPoint account, to get back on the schedule. Remember, your care team is wearing the appropriate PPE, doing extra cleaning and keeping people socially distanced in our facilities. We are safe and ready to see you in-person.

“Scheduling an annual physical exam is the best way for your doctor to check in on your physical and mental health. They can detect any irregularities that might cause problems down the road. Usually, an adult physical includes a chat with a provider, some bloodwork, a review of vaccines you may need and a plan for age-appropriate preventative tests,” Dr. Newland says.

Children’s wellness exams check for growth, development and well-being – including emotional wellbeing. Sports physicals don’t take the place of an annual physical because they don’t address other health factors in a child’s life. However, a child who has an annual physical likely won’t need any additional sports physicals during a year, unless there’s a change in a child’s medical history. A child’s physical also ensures they are up-to-date on their vaccinations.

“It’s also a good idea to make sure your family is on track with dental check-ups. We know oral health is a contributor to overall health and many people have delayed those visits due to the pandemic,” Dr. Newland says.

2. Work Together to Get a COVID-19 Vaccine 

Since eligibility has opened up, work as a family to schedule appointments for all loved ones 16 and older, who are interested in getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

“We are seeing more openings in COVID-19 vaccine scheduling. If you'd like a vaccine, try checking online, calling pharmacies or departments of public health and/or your doctor’s office. In the meantime, everyone, even those who’ve been vaccinated, should wear a face mask, social distance, wash their hands often and stay home when sick,” Dr. Newland says.

If a family member has specific questions about their health leading up to vaccination, those questions should be directed to a primary care provider.

3. Have a Family Chat 

Now that we’ve talked about the family’s physical health, it’s time to check on mental health. 

“Keeping the channels of communication open between family members is very important. A lot of people are feeling a variety of emotions as we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel for COVID-19. You might be surprised to find it’s making some people feel uneasy. So, now is a great time to host a family chat,” Dr. Newland says.

Try these conversation starters:

  • What did you learn this year that you didn’t expect?
  • How do you think you’ve changed this year?
  • What’s one thing you’ve started doing in the past year that you’d like to see continue/discontinue?

“If you notice anyone struggling, consider making an appointment with a primary care provider. The provider can help facilitate a discussion and provide medical services to help. If further assistance is needed, the primary care doctor can make a recommendation for next steps,” Dr. Newland says.

4. Explore the Outdoors

The vitamin D from sunshine will help boost your mood! The nice weather is also a chance to get in more outdoor exercise. Consider a new park, getting artsy with sidewalk chalk (Yes, even big kids can do this) or ride/run/walk on a different bike trail. Don’t forget sunscreen. Make sure to use a product with an SPF of 30 or more and reapply every two hours while outdoors. 

You'll find many checklist items on this interactive healthy bingo card. To play, mark off boxes to complete a bingo. Try getting five in a row, four corners or the entire page for a blackout. Download a printable version of this health bingo card today.

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Friendship Healthy Lifestyle Checklist 

The pandemic has put a damper on many friendships. Hopefully, you’ve kept up with your buddies virtually. But, if you haven’t, it’s OK. Here are three checklist items to help you be present for your friends.

1. Send a Quick Message to Someone You Miss

It’s normal to have lost touch with friends and want to reconnect. Pandemic or not, this is a normal part of life. If you want to reconnect with a friend, one easy idea is to simply send a text message.

“Include in your message that you’d like to reconnect and that the friendship is important to you. Make sure to give the friend grace, too. If they are busy and now isn’t the best time to reconnect, let them know that’s OK,” Dr. Newland says.

Another easy idea, if you have a few extra dollars, send a friend digital cash for a coffee on you. It’s a simple way to let them know you still care.

2. Ask a Friend, “How Are You Holding Up?” 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on everyone’s life. Many people have been struggling with stressful, overwhelming situations that create strong emotions. Take a moment this spring to ask a friend, “How are you holding up?”

“After you ask that question, make sure you really listen to their answer. If they don’t fully respond, consider posing another question to get them talking,” Dr. Newland says.

A follow-up question could be:

  • What’s been on your mind recently?
  • Is there any type of support you need?

If you notice your friend is struggling, suggest they connect with their primary care doctor for recommendations on how to help. 

3. Spread Some Smiles

Make yourself a Wellness Wednesday note on your calendar to take five minutes to spread some cheer. There are several easy ways to create a few extra smiles, including:

  • Comment on or like a friend’s social media post
  • Compliment a co-worker
  • Leave a small care package at a friend or neighbor’s door

“Smiling and laughter can bring people together and relieve stress. A few simple things can really go a long way in making someone’s day better,” Dr. Newland says.

“YOU” Healthy Lifestyle Checklist 

Perhaps, most importantly, you need to take time to check in with yourself right now. Because you can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself. Try adding these four checklist items to your spring agenda to stay healthy and happy.

1. Schedule Some Mental Health Time 

“Whether it’s taking a day off work, taking two hours off work or even putting some time aside during your day off – do whatever you need to make some time for you. Even a couple hours away can relieve stress and improve wellbeing,” Dr. Newland says.

Use your mental health time to consider how you are doing – mentally. If you notice you’ve been feeling off balance, talk to your doctor about it. Your provider is available to help you through any difficulties you are experiencing.

2. Relax – Consider a Bath 

A nice bath can help you relax. If you like adding items to your bath water, try a few drops of essential oils instead of bath bombs or salts, which may cause skin irritation. 

“Maybe it isn’t a bath that helps you relax, perhaps it’s a warm shower, reading or journaling that’s more helpful. Whatever it is, make sure to incorporate your ‘you’ time in,” Dr. Newland says.

3. Log Extra Steps 

It might also be exercise that helps you feel more centered. Even walking can help boost your mood, lower cholesterol and even reverse aging. 

“With the nicer weather, getting in more steps usually happens naturally. Some easy ways to add extra steps includes parking farther away, taking the stairs more, taking a break during your workday for a lap around your facility or walking the dog,” Dr. Newland says.

4. Get Organized 

“When dealing with too much clutter and chaos, it creates anxiety and can make it difficult to relax. Clutter can be a constant reminder that things feel out of control,” Dr. Newland says.

One way to get organized is to declutter your tech life. If you’re always spending time looking for the right apps or information, put them in an order, or add folders to help you make sense of the information in a more manageable way. While dropping some apps, consider adding the MyUnityPoint app to make managing your health easier.

“Making an account and using the app is a great way to easily track your health, and your family’s health, and connect with your care team. Your account allows you to see test results, review notes from appointments and send messages to your provider if you have questions or concerns,” Dr. Newland says.