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7 surprising things that can affect your health without you even realising.

Recently, I was diagnosed with exhaustion. I was raising a child, running my own business and loving the challenge. Then my emotions got sidelined by some full on personal issues that made it difficult to be my usual hardy self.

The consequence of having too much to deal with was that my skin broke out like never before, my self esteem suffered and I completely lost control of my moods.

Funnily enough, the last person I considered speaking to about this was my doctor. In the end my husband made an appointment for me and the result was a structured mental health plan that has left me feeling much stronger emotionally.

When it comes to your health, there are a lot of things that can stop you from performing at your best, without you even knowing it.

1. Poor posture.

Are you a sloucher? If so, it is definitely doing you harm. Crunching over all the time slows your digestion, plays havoc with your circulation and even decreases your levels of the happy hormone serotonin.

The good news is that bad posture is easily fixed with a little self awareness. Walk tall and proud and sit up straight and you’ll not only notice the physical benefits, you’ll give yourself an instant confidence boost.

maintain health easily
The good news is that bad posture is easily fixed. Image via iStock.

2. Vitamin D levels.

A couple of years ago a close friend of mine was pulling very long hours at work. She was waking before dawn, heading to the office and not leaving again until the sun had set. After a short amount of time she started feeling seriously unwell.

After hearing her symptoms of mood swings, lethargy and general soreness all over the doctor asked one question - how much time are you spending outside during the day? A lack of vitamin D was a big clue to her bad health. She made it a rule to eat her lunch outdoors and said that this subtle change actually made a world of difference.

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Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and hugely important for the health of your bones, muscles and has even been linked to general wellbeing. Speak to a medical professional if you are concerned that you are not getting enough.

3. High stress levels.

Stress is a well-being no-no. If you’re facing too many challenges in your life and not getting enough breaks in between, you risk hauling around a showbag of unpleasant side effects, no matter how strong and confident you think you are.

Think headaches, upset stomach and even skin breakouts. Stress even puts you in the firing line for depression and anxiety. Your brain starts to form negative thinking habits and loses track of its ability to feel positive emotions.

And if you’re ever in doubt, remember the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.”

"If you’re facing too many challenges in your life and not getting enough breaks in between, you risk hauling around a showbag of unpleasant side effects, no matter how strong and confident you think you are." Image via iStock.

4. Poor sleeping habits.

Pulling regular all-nighters is unadvisable because it directly affects your awareness and your coordination, not to mention your mood. But did you know that a chronic lack of sleep can actually lead to heart disease? This is because not getting enough shut-eye causes higher blood pressure, which in turn affects the heart. Scary stuff.

Sleep can also be a factor in obesity. Recently celebrity chef Jamie Oliver confessed that his secret weapon for losing several kilos was to switch from sleeping four hours a night to eight - good news for anybody who is dubious about embarking on a weight loss plan.

5. Needing glasses.

As we age, our eyesight inevitably gets worse. Staying away from the optometrist can have the obvious repercussions of accidents because obstacles go un-noticed.

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If you don’t wear your glasses, you also put yourself at risk of eyestrain. This means you’re working extra hard just to see the things around you. It’s an open invitation for headaches, tired eyes and double vision that will put the brakes on your fast-paced life.

As we age, our eyesight inevitably gets worse. Image via iStock.

6. Not drinking enough water.

Do you ever get to the end of another busy day and feel terrible, only to realise you haven’t stopped for a drink? The effects of not drinking water are fast and noticeable. If you’re not getting enough on a regular basis, you’re more likely to experience headaches and have difficulty concentrating.

Being dehydrated slows your brain down, causing it to need more energy to function. Even painful periods and yeast infections have been linked to not drinking enough water.

7. Caffeine overload.

Speaking of dehydration, doctors are finding that even people who drink a lot of fluids during the day can end up with this condition. This is because drinking too much caffeine actually works in reverse, acting as a diuretic and making you need to go to the toilet.

If you are going overboard with tea, coffee or soft drinks, side effects can include nausea, increased anxiety and muscle tremors, not to mention chronic dehydration. While caffeine has been found to have some health benefits, moderation is definitely key. Boost your busy lifestyle with water, fresh juice and smoothies instead of reaching for the coffee every time.

And as always, if you’re in any way concerned about your health, do as I did and speak to your doctor to discuss changes in habits or supplements that can steer you towards feeling your best self.

How do you maintain your health easily?

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