Even if you love your doctor, chances are that she's your favorite person to never have to see. While a trip to the land of needles and forceps is necessary from time to time, there are some things you can do to increase your odds of only seeing your MD sporadically.
We spoke with Dr. Clarisse Casilang, who practices out of Fresno, California, for some tips on how to (hopefully) keep that stethoscope far, far away.
1. Stop pulling all-nighters
Getting enough shuteye keeps your immune system strong, and also puts you at a lower risk for developing mental health issues. "Having sufficient sleep can determine quality of life and the level of energy you have," says Dr. Casilang.
What constitutes "sufficient sleep"? That varies from person to person. Some people feel high-energy after just six hours of sleep, while others require closer to nine. Be mindful of how much you require to feel energetic and alert -- without the use of coffee or an energy drink that's the color of antifreeze.
2. Eat (or drink) your damn veggies
A balanced diet does not mean successfully balancing that burger on your lap while driving. Foods rich in nutrients and vitamins such as A, the Bs, C, E, zinc and iron allow your immune system to function at its strongest, which translates to time away from that waiting room. Regularly chow down on fruits like citrus and bananas, snacks like almonds and peanut butter, and everything else your parents always wanted you to eat.
3. Exercise. Daily.
OK, not every day has to be another heart-pumping spin class where the instructor screams, drill-sergeant-style, "Whatever you're doing on this bike is what you're doing in your life!" But a regular workout of some kind is tremendously effective in keeping you illness-free. "Exercise has many benefits on the mind and body, and works to prevent or alleviate chronic illnesses," says Dr. Calisang.
In other words, your morning walks with your dog are doing more for you than just providing an excuse to talk to the sexy owner of that adorable lab.
4. Wash your hands. A lot.
Hand-washing is a simple and effective way of keeping you from catching the nasty bug that's got your friends and coworkers sniffling like they just watched "The Notebook."
Of course, you should wash your hands after using the bathroom, but also make sure you're lathering up after touching an animal, preparing food, taking out the trash, turning a doorknob, getting gas, or any other time you come into contact with a surface that a lot of people touch. If your skin gets dry easily, look out for hand soaps that contain shea butter or other moisturizing ingredients.
5. Chill out, dude
Managing your stress levels can help reduce the length of colds and the severity of things like chronic headaches, making you less likely to dial up your doc. "Finding outlets to decompress prevents mental and physical strain," advises Dr. Casilang. "This helps prevent backaches, headaches and muscle cramps."
Relaxing a little also decreases the likelihood of stress-related habits such as eating poorly or drinking too much, which can create even more health complications. Yes, you really do need that massage or mani/pedi.