Step 4:  Get enough sleep.

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired. Experts tell us adults generally need seven to nine hours of sleep a night. (That would be actual sleep, not snuggling in bed with your smart phone playing Words With Friends.)

Studies show people who do not get enough sleep are more likely to have chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, or obesity. Driving drowsy can be as deadly as driving while intoxicated. That’s the bad news ... now here’s the good stuff:  Do you know what happens when you do sleep? Your body regenerates skin, and muscle, joints, and brain cells. Go to sleep to get smarter—I love that!

If you have trouble falling asleep, I recently heard it suggested that you start dimming all lights and sound in the hour before climbing into bed. Apparently it’s a little jarring for some bodies to jump from ON to OFF—this provides a sort of dimmer switch to make the transition easier.

Step 5:  Get a physical

Granted, it’s not the most fun thing in the world, but an annual physical can be a life-saver—literally. I know people who don’t want to go to the doctor because “they might find something.” Yes ... and if they find it soon enough that “something” may be easily fixable. Let it slide and the problem may be much more difficult to solve.

Besides, what if you find out you’re healthy as a horse? Peace of mind is nothing to sneeze at. If you’re an impatient soul who doesn’t want to waste time in a waiting room, think of it this way: once you’ve seen a doctor, you move from the “new patient” category to the “existing patient” file. This means when you eventually come down with a raging case of whatever (it’s bound to happen eventually) you’ll get in to see the doctor much faster. Comes the day you feel like death on a stick, you’ll really appreciate that extra speed.

So there you have it: baby steps to better health. You may already be doing all of them but if not, consider trying one or five. They may keep you around longer. I’d like that. Your friends and family would, too.


1Water: How much should you drink every day. Mayo Clinic Staff. Accessed 2.27.11.


Susan Ellingburg is a natural-born Texan who sings at every opportunity, reads as much as possible, and cherishes every day she gets to spend with friends.  She's a serious foodie and not-so-serious gardener who is determined not to let being single stand in the way of living an amazing life.  Read Susan's blog at