Prevention Gone Personal—How Self-Checks Can Save Your Life
In the throes of life, it’s easy to be distracted by finances, family or circumstances you can’t control. When do you remember to care for yourself? February is National Self-Check Month, serving as a welcome reminder to take a step back and re-evaluate your overall wellness. A good self-check is more than a half-hearted once-over; consistency and listening to your body may instead lead to early detection of diseases or an illness that could otherwise take a toll on your health.
What entails a self-check? Self-checks can range from visiting your doctor for preventative appointments or inspecting yourself for anything out of the ordinary—like unusual skin tags or pain in a particular part of the body—but should really focus on an evaluation of what your “normal” is. Getting acquainted with your individual interpretation of what normal looks and feels like is important to help you detect when something doesn’t feel or look quite right. And when in doubt: see your doctor!
What am I supposed to be self-checking? SelfChec.org has many awesome resources on what part of the body and how often each individual should be checking. Their website lists some of the most important self-check methods for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and provides detailed descriptions on how to perform these self-checks and what to look for during them. Remember, every individual is different, so an anomaly for someone else could very well be normal for you; this serves as a reminder that your “normal” is unique and also why seeing your doctor annually is crucial to taking charge of your health.
Can self-checks help me see how my health will look in the future? Predicting your future isn’t such an implausible idea. Knowing your family medical history and alerting your primary care provider to any risk factors can help map out a plan of action that can keep you happy and healthy. However, in some circumstances, one might not know their family history—and that’s okay! If a health issue has presented itself in your life, taking action to correct your daily routine, eating habits or exercise patterns are simple ways to help you navigate around health hardships.
Even if you only self-check once a year when February rolls around, making a note of your personal “normal” will help you recognize when something is awry with your health. Not to mention how empowering it may feel knowing that you know yourself better than anyone else! Your body will thank you for granting it the kindness of taking charge of your health.
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