Good health is never something to take for granted, especially as you age. With more and more people developing chronic illnesses like diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis each year, living a life marked by wellness seems like it’s becoming more difficult to achieve. While the reasons for Americans’ declining health is undoubtedly complex, part of the reason for the decline is due to a number of surprising conditions that — at least from the outside — look as though they have little to do with health at all. From poverty to watching too much TV, here are six factors that can harm your health.
1. Financial Setbacks
What does money have to do with good health? As it turns out, a lot. Financial setbacks, whether due to medical bills or a stock market crash, can leave you with health woes that — if money weren’t a concern — wouldn’t be plaguing you. It seems the stress of worrying over money can literally put you into an early grave. For the folks on this side of the 1 percent, that’s hardly good news. However, there are some choices that can offset the risks. Because medical bills account for a large percentage of personal bankruptcies in the United States, one solid financial and pro-health decision you can make is to purchase critical health insurance. It’s also wise to live debt-free and keep three to six months worth of savings in the bank. Those simple steps can help guard against the health-hampering stress unexpected financial setbacks can create.
Living in poverty is hard on your health in a number of ways. From having less access to health care when illness does strike, to eating a diet devoid of essential vitamins and nutrients, poverty is as costly to physical health as it is to economic mobility. For children born into and raised in poverty, the connection between poverty and poor health is especially grave, leading to poorer health outcomes over a lifetime — even when children manage to escape poverty as adults.
The notion that grief can make one ill has been poetically documented throughout human history, so it may come as no surprise that grief can literally weaken and sicken the body. According to a study published in the journal Circulation, people who lose a spouse, increase their risk of heart attack, infections, and stroke by as much as 21 times, which means grief’s toll is every bit as physical as it is mental and emotional.
Not being able to get a good night’s rest is never any fun, but the ways in which it taxes the body are downright cruel. A number of serious health conditions have been linked to poor sleeping, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and obesity. It’s even been shown to shorten a person’s life expectancy. Then there’s the mental toll of not sleeping enough, which makes you more prone to accidents at home, work, and in your car. Getting enough sleep is so important that it’s almost impossible to have good health without it. Click here to see some tips from Early to Rise’s Missi Holt for improving your sleep.
5. Watching TV
It’s too bad that TV viewership isn’t something that boosts good health considering the average household watches roughly 25 hours of TV a week. A number of different studies have shown a correlation between the amount of television a person consumes and everything from an increase in the incidence of Type-2 diabetes to heart disease and early death. More than any other “condition” on this list, however, the amount of television a person watches simple to change. If you find yourself seated in front of the TV for more than a few hours a day, get up, and go for a quick walk around the block. Plan a meal and cook it. Read a book. Because the amount of television watched is directly linked to worsening health outcomes, any reduction in viewing is a step in a healthier direction.
6. A Bad Attitude
A bad attitude isn’t just something that can negatively affect your social life. Getting stuck in negative emotions like anger, bitterness, and cynicism can actually wreak havoc on your health. From depression to dementia and heart disease, your outlook on life can take a heavy toll on your health. If you find yourself stuck in negative patterns of thinking and feeling, it behooves you to do something to combat it. Talk to a therapist or trusted friend, and work to change your habitually negative outlook toward one that’s more positive, more grateful, and more trusting. You’ll be healthier, happier, and you’ll live longer by doing so. Check out some tips from Missi Holt on reframing your inner dialog here.
Being healthy goes beyond good genetics, regular exercise, or optimum diet. As these six surprising conditions show, it’s just as important to have a good attitude and get a good night’s sleep.
Written by Cher Zavala
About the Author: Cher Zavala contributes content on a variety of subjects to a number of high-quality websites.