Routine Check Ups: The Complete Adult Wellness Checklist
A Practical Approach to 'Taking Care of Yourself'
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Being an adult is long, folks. There’s no way to get around it. It seems that, the older we get, the more responsibilities we have to contend with. There’s nothing that says ‘adult’ like the moment you begin handling your own health and wellness - no longer can you ask your mother to organise your physical, dental and health appointments. No longer can you wait until something is wrong with you before seeking out professional assistance.
Sometimes, it can be really difficult to know exactly what to ensure is healthy. With the general chaos of life, and perhaps the lack of access to this information, many of us assume things are fine and de-prioritise preventative health measures. In fact, it was only when, in 2022, I had all of my ‘adult appointments’ scheduled in over the span of a week, that I realised just how important it was to stay in tip top shape. Within a week, I had more detailed intel on my body, wellness and relationships, and it profoundly shifted much of my life’s practices.
One of my mother’s favourite sayings?
‘Prevention is better than finding a cure, Renée.’
Let’s get into that comprehensive adult checklist, then.
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Understanding your body is important.
Physical health is incredibly broad, and can encompass your gut health, your hormonal profile, your body composition and so much more. I recommend starting with the basics - a regular check up with your GP or doctor where they will be able to provide more guidance as to key stats you should have. For example, some key medical checks can include going over your medical history, undertaking a full physical examination, a recommendation of key immunisations, measurement of vital signs, and measuring your weight distribution.
A regular checkup is an opportunity for you and your doctor to assess your overall health, identify any health problems or risk factors, and provide guidance on preventive care and healthy lifestyle choices
⚡️ ACTION: Organise a bi-annual or annual physical examination with your healthcare provider in person.
Ensure you have a great picture of your sexual health.
I am a huge believer in sexual wellness - not simply engaging in sexual activities, but genuinely ensuring that your sexual health is in top shape. Staying on top of your sexual health has a wealth of benefits. Whether you are sexually active or not, a sexual health check can provide you with peace of mind, reduce your anxiety, detect STIs early on, and protect your overall health and wellbeing.
It can also be a great opportunity to learn about safe sex practices, STI prevention and other important sexual health topics. Furthermore, if you are currently on, or looking to use, contraception, it is necessary to be well educated on the matter to determine the options for you and your sexual partner.
⚡️ ACTION: Aim to have a sexual health-related check up every year, and much more frequently if you are sexually active.
Preventative and regular dental care is king.
Perhaps the most ‘awkwardly’ underrated check up is the dental check up. I say ‘awkward’ as dental health tends to be neglected in Global Health priorities. A new Global Oral Health Status Report demonstrated that almost half of the world’s population suffers from oral diseases, and global cases of oral diseases have increased by 1 billion over the last 30 years.
The problems are complex and institutional, as well as personal. Access to affordable healthcare continues to be a big issues, and in a world where the majority of preventative dental care providers are private, it’s no wonder that dental care falls by the wayside. However, where possible and affordable, ensuring that routine dental care check ups are part of your ‘adult checklist’ can save you from a whole bunch of toothaches later down the line.
⚡️ ACTION: Alongside incorporating regular preventative dental practices, aim to visit a dental hygienist at least once every 6 months.
Your mental health is a top priority.
Just like physical health check-ups, routine mental health check-ups are essential for maintaining mental wellness and identifying any potential issues before they become more severe. It’s not always necessary to go through intense bouts of therapy - you can be the judge as to whether you need it or not.
However, if you’re not currently in therapy, it may be worth having regular bi-annual/ annual interactions with some form of counselling or therapy, just to check that everything is fine and dandy. Or, to ensure that if there are changes, you have the right support available for you to deal with those changes in your life. It’s also worth noting that during an annual physical exam, your healthcare provider can ask questions about your mental health and wellness and refer you to a mental health professional if necessary.
⚡️ ACTION: Organise a bi-annual or annual mental health check in with a registered professional. These screenings may be available through your healthcare provider or online.
How are your relationships? Really?
I’ve written at length about the importance of checking in with your friends, family and loved ones consistently, as well as ensuring that they’re relationships which deepen and improve with time. Many of us take our relationships for granted, or laser focus on one specific relationship…usually our romantic relationships. A wealth of our wellbeing comes from being present with the full variety of loving relationships in our life - loving, platonic and parental.
Connecting with loved ones and discussing how you're feeling can help you feel supported and understood. Sometimes it can also be difficult to recognise changes in our own mental health. Loved ones can provide an objective perspective and help identify changes in your mood or behavior.
⚡️ ACTION: Set up a regular time to connect with loved ones and discuss how you're feeling.
Organise a bi-annual or annual physical examination with your healthcare provider in person.
Aim to have a sexual health-related check up every year, and much more frequently if you are sexually active.
Alongside incorporating regular preventative dental practices, aim to visit a dental hygienist at least once every 6 months.
Organise a bi-annual or annual mental health check in with a registered professional. These screenings may be available through your healthcare provider or online.
Set up a regular time to connect with loved ones and discuss how you're feeling.
💥 Extra Goodies
I’m reading: All About Love - Bell Hooks
I’m listening to:
“It's not enough to be up to date, you have to be up to tomorrow.”
― David Ben-Gurion