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21 Healthy Habits To Improve Your Physical And Mental Health

Many men and women struggle with maintaining good health habits. Poor habits can lead to many health conditions and can also impact incontinence. In addition, if you already have incontinence, poor habits may worsen the symptoms. Here’s a list of healthy habits to start with, some ideas you can try to improve your health, and some tips on how to make the habits stick. 

It’s important to keep your physical and mental health in check because they affect your overall well-being and quality of life. 

Physical health refers to the condition of your body, including factors such as your fitness, nutrition, and disease prevention. To have and stay in good physical health, you need regular exercise. This helps you feel better, have more energy, and reduces your risk of developing health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. In addition, physical exercise produces your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins.  Endorphins help improve your self-esteem, ward off anxiety, feelings of depression, and many other mental health benefits. 

A healthy dose of physical activity also plays a vital role in maintaining the strength and function of the muscles and tissues that control the bladder and bowel. When physical activity decreases, such as in cases of prolonged bed rest or a sedentary lifestyle, these muscles and tissues can become weaker, leading to incontinence. It can also lead to constipation, which can also contribute to incontinence. When stools are hard and difficult to pass, they can put pressure on the bladder and further weaken the pelvic floor muscles, making it harder to control urine and feces.

Mental health refers to your emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how you think, feel, and behave. Good mental health helps you cope with the daily stresses of life, maintain healthy relationships, and enjoy life to the fullest. But with poor mental health, you may find the ways you think, feel, or react become very negative and, in extreme cases, to cope with. It can feel just as bad as a physical illness.

In some cases, a person’s mental health may lead to incontinence. For instance, a mental health disorder could mean the person is too confused or distracted to get to the bathroom in time, causing incontinence. On the other hand, incontinence can also contribute to poor mental health. Being a profoundly embarrassing condition to most, it leads to a shrinking away from social contacts and, therefore, from social activities, risking loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety. Additionally, anxiety and stress can also contribute to urinary incontinence. These conditions can cause the muscles and nerves that control the bladder and bowel to tense up, increasing pressure on the bladder and bowel. This can cause urinary urgency, frequency, or leakage, as well as difficulty with bowel movements. 

Both physical and mental health are interconnected, and caring for one can help improve the other. By understanding how physical and mental health influence each other and how to optimize both for quality of life, you can live a happier, healthier, more fulfilling life.

Tips For Improving Both Mental And Physical Health

Now that you know how physical and mental health is linked, here are some tips you can use:

1. Get Moving With Regular Exercise And Muscle Training

Exercising regularly helps not only improve your physical health but also increases your energy and stamina. At the same time, exercise can also help you improve your mental health — reduce feelings of depression and stress, and enhance your mood and overall emotional well-being. The better your physical state, the easier it is to see the world positively. 

 

It also has the added benefit of improving muscle mass and strength, building bones, and reducing body fat. Studies have shown that overweight and obese women who lost between 5% and 10% of body weight saw improvements in continence. 

2. Eat A Balanced Diet

If you’re struggling with your mental or physical health, there could be a relatively easy fix: Make conscious efforts and develop healthy eating habits of a balanced diet, a rainbow of fruits and vegetables, and nutrient-dense foods from other food groups. Not only do you reduce your risk of chronic diseases and some cancers, but you also get to improve your gut health and enhance your mood.

However, certain foods have been linked to urinary incontinence, such as honey, citrus juice & fruits. Hence, choose your foods carefully and stop eating or cut back on drinks or foods that may cause bladder symptoms. 

3. Get Plenty Of Sleep

Sleep is a natural state of rest for the body and mind. As you drift off into slumber, your body gets to rest and rejuvenate, repairing tissues and boosting your immune system. Plus, your mind is freed from the worries and stress of the day. Without enough sleep, you’ll have to operate with less energy and might find concentrating harder. Worse, poor sleep impacts moods and may increase frustration and irritability.  

Suppose you are continuously not getting enough sleep. In that case, you increase the chances you develop heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure, among other conditions. 

By developing healthy sleep habits every night — between seven to nine hours as a guide — you can sharpen your learning and problem-solving skills while increasing your attention span, creativity, and decision-making.

4. Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated is a vital healthy habit for your body because water is essential for many bodily functions, like regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, and ensuring your organs work normally. Furthermore, more than half of the human body is made up of water.

When you don’t drink enough water, your body can become dehydrated, leading to a host of problems such as headaches, fatigue, dizziness, and even confusion. In more severe cases, it can even lead to heat stroke, which can be dangerous.

How much water your body needs depends on your size, activity level, and where you live. In general, ensure you have enough fluids to pass urine every few hours to remove metabolic products and toxic wastes filtered from your kidneys. 

A more pressing question, if you have incontinence, is how much water you should drink. There’s no fixed quantity, but a good gauge is to pay attention to your bladder urges during fluid intake. Also, pay attention to the type of beverages, as some may irritate the bladder. 

5. Stretch Regularly To Improve Flexibility

Stretching exercises can beman and woman stretching. beneficial to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and other pelvic organs, in addition to improving your posture, improve your posture and increase blood flow to your muscles which helps reduce muscle soreness and stiffness.

And it can be a great way to relax and reduce stress because when you stretch, you focus on your breath and your body, which can help you feel more centered and calm. For instance, Yoga could help relieve the symptoms of incontinence. The breathing techniques improve blood flow throughout the body, which helps keep the pelvic area healthy. The mula bandha (root lock) is one of Yoga’s best pelvic floor muscle exercises. It strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, which helps prevent urine leakage. 

It’s important to note, however, that every individual’s situation is unique, and it’s always a good idea to speak with a healthcare provider or a physical therapist before beginning any new exercise routine. They can help you determine which exercises are best for your specific needs. They can also help ensure that you’re performing them correctly.

6. Take A Break From Screens

While taking a break from screens may not have a direct impact on incontinence, it can still have a positive effect on overall pelvic floor health. For instance, if you spend long periods sitting in front of a screen, you may be neglecting the pelvic floor muscles. This can contribute to weak or tight pelvic floor muscles, which can be a factor in urinary incontinence.

Taking a break from screens and engaging in other activities, like going for a walk or doing a yoga class, can help you move your body muscles and engage your pelvic floor muscles.  

Additionally, taking a break from screens and engaging in other relaxing activities, like meditation or deep breathing, can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. Stress is a known trigger for urinary incontinence. By lowering stress levels, you can also reduce the frequency or severity of incontinence episodes. And it improves sleep and less strain on the eyes. 

While taking a break from screens may not be an immediate solution for incontinence, it’s still an important healthy habit to implement. A digital break can positively impact overall pelvic floor health and reduce incontinence symptoms.

7. Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness involves paying attention to the present moment without judgment or distraction. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety, common triggers for incontinence. When you are stressed or anxious, your body produces hormones that can affect the pelvic floor muscles, leading to incontinence.

In addition to reducing stress and anxiety, mindfulness can help improve your awareness and attention to your body. By learning to recognize the signals that indicate the need to go to the bathroom, you can develop better control over your bladder and reduce the frequency or severity of incontinence episodes.

8. Connect With Others

Anyone knows that dealinggroup of people playing cards outside on a patio. with incontinence can be embarrassing and isolating. And it is prevalent among women. So if you feel this way, talking with others experiencing the same issues may be helpful. These individuals can also provide additional advice for managing the symptoms.

You can also approach your healthcare professional about local or online support groups for incontinence or contact National Association for Continence, which provides resources to help connect people with support groups.

9. Take Care Of Your Skin

A urine leak is not only uncomfortable but also harms your skin.

When urine comes into contact with your skin, it can cause irritation, redness, and even sores or infections. Also, prolonged moisture exposure can weaken your skin and make it more susceptible to further damage.  

That’s why taking care of your skin is essential when managing incontinence. If you use absorbent products, change them frequently to help keep your skin dry and reduce the risk of leaks or accidents.

By following these simple steps, you can help protect your skin and manage the effects of incontinence more effectively. Remember, taking care of your skin is integral to overall health and well-being and can help you feel more comfortable and confident in your daily life.

10. Get Regular Checkups

One of the more important healthy habits on this list, regular check-ups can help identify any underlying medical conditions that may be contributing to your incontinence. For example, conditions like diabetes or multiple sclerosis can affect bladder function and cause incontinence. By detecting these conditions early on, you can work with your doctor to manage them and reduce the impact on your bladder function.

Your doctor can also help you identify lifestyle changes or habits affecting your incontinence. For example, drinking too much caffeine or alcohol or not drinking enough water can affect your bladder function. By working with your doctor during your checkup visit, you can identify these factors and modify your lifestyle to better manage and improve your incontinence.

Your doctor can also provide you with guidance and advice on managing your incontinence. They can recommend specific exercises or physical therapy to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which can improve bladder control. They can also recommend medications or other treatments that may be helpful in managing your symptoms.

Incontinence can be a complex condition that requires ongoing management. Regular checkups can monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan for a desirable outcome.

11. Practice Good Oral Hygiene For Good Overall Health

You might be wondering, what does oral hygiene have to do with managing incontinence? 

People with poor oral health are at risk of bladder and kidney disease as bacteria from the mouth can travel to the bladder and cause inflammation or infection, leading to incontinence. 

So, good oral hygiene means brushing your teeth at least twice daily, flossing regularly, and seeing your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. By keeping your mouth healthy, you can help keep the rest of your body healthy and diminish your risk of developing bladder problems and incontinence.

Learn something new/take up a new hobby

Learning new skills or engaging in mentally stimulating activities improves cognitive function and brain plasticity. This, in turn, can positively affect the pelvic muscles and nerves that control bladder and bowel function.

 

In addition to these specific examples, taking up a new hobby or activity can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and self-esteem, and increase social interaction and support.

12. Take A Walk

Walking as a regular exerciseman and woman walking in the woods. helps you strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and bowel, including the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are responsible for controlling the release of urine and feces. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, such as brisk walking, most days of the week. 

13. Keep A Journal

Keeping a personal journal can still be therapeutic and, at the same time, help you cope with the challenges of living with incontinence. Writing in a journal provides a safe and private space to express your thoughts and feelings about your condition. It can also help you to identify any negative thoughts or beliefs that may be holding you back and find ways to reframe them in a more positive light.

For example, if you’re feeling embarrassed or ashamed about your incontinence, writing about these feelings in a journal can help you process them and come to a place of acceptance and self-compassion. You can also use your journal to set goals and track your progress, such as gradually increasing the time between restroom breaks or reducing the frequency of accidents. (Get a free bladder diary here to do just that!)

By recording when and how often you experience incontinence and any factors contributing to it, you can start to identify patterns and adjust your habits and routines to improve your bladder and bowel function.

So, whether you keep a journal just to track your incontinence symptoms or a personal diary to process your emotions and experiences, it can be a valuable tool in managing your condition and improving your overall well-being.

14. Listen To Music

While it may not seem immediately obvious, listening to music can actually be a helpful strategy for managing incontinence.  

First, it’s essential to recognize that incontinence can be stressful and anxiety-provoking for many people. For example, the fear of having an accident in public or the discomfort of experiencing leakage can cause feelings of anxiety and tension, making the problem worse.

woman listening to music on her headphones.Listening to music, however, has been shown to have a calming effect on the body and mind. Music can lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reduce feelings of anxiety and tension. This can be particularly helpful for people with incontinence, as it can help them to relax and reduce the physical and emotional stress that can aggravate symptoms.

In addition to its calming effects, music can be a helpful distraction from the discomfort and embarrassment of incontinence. Focusing on the music can take your mind off your symptoms and shift your attention to something more enjoyable and uplifting.

And while performing pelvic floor exercises, you can tune into your favorite songs or music to enhance the exercise experience. 

Of course, it’s important to note that music is not a cure for incontinence, and it’s always best to work with a healthcare provider to develop a comprehensive treatment plan. However, incorporating music into your self-care routine may be a helpful adjunct to other strategies for managing incontinence.

15. Get A Pet

Everyone knows that pets provide companionship and emotional support, which can be especially important for people with incontinence. Living with a chronic condition can be isolating and stressful, and having a furry friend around can help to reduce feelings of loneliness and improve mood.

Furthermore, pets can help to reduce stress and anxiety, which can be particularly helpful for people with incontinence, as it can help to reduce the physical and emotional tension that can contribute to bladder and bowel dysfunction.

In addition to the emotional benefits of having a pet, there are also some practical ways that pets can help with incontinence management. For example, dogs can be trained, similar to that of a guide dog, to alert their owners when it’s time to go to the bathroom, which can be especially helpful for people with mobility issues or cognitive impairment. Some service animals can even be trained to assist with specific incontinence-related tasks, such as helping with clothing changes or providing support during transfers.

Finally, having a pet can provide motivation for staying active and engaged in daily life. Going for walks with a dog or playing with a cat can be a fun and rewarding way to incorporate physical activity into your routine, which can help to improve overall health and reduce incontinence symptoms.

16. Learn Something New or Take Up A New Hobby

Learning new skills or engaging in mentally stimulating activities improves cognitive function and brain plasticity. This, in turn, can positively affect the pelvic muscles and nerves that control bladder and bowel function.

In addition to these specific examples, taking up a new hobby or activity can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood and self-esteem, and increase social interaction and support.

17. Try A New Food

Trying a new food can also be a fun and engaging way to add variety to your diet, which can be important for overall health and well-being. Plus, connecting with others and engaging in social activities is great. Sharing meals with friends and family can be a fun and rewarding way to build relationships and promote social support, which can be especially important for people with incontinence who may sometimes feel isolated or self-conscious.

On a more cautious note, pay attention to the ingredients in the food, as certain foods and drinks can irritate the bladder or bowel and contribute to incontinence symptoms. For example, caffeine, alcohol, and spicy or acidic foods can all be problematic if you already have incontinence. However, everyone’s triggers are different. Therefore, experimenting with new foods to identify your triggers can be helpful.

18. Go Outside

It is perfectly normal that you may feel hesitant to leave the house or engage in social activities if you are experiencing incontinence. However, staying active and engaged in the community can benefit managing incontinence.

By going out and engaging in social activities, you may be better able to manage stress and anxiety. In addition, going out and being physically active can help support bowel regularity, which can help reduce incontinence symptoms. Finally, going out can be a way to build social connections and promote social support, which can be especially important for people with incontinence, who may sometimes feel isolated or embarrassed.

Of course, planning and being prepared when going out is much needed, especially if you are concerned about incontinence symptoms. Bring extra clothing or incontinence products, and identify restrooms or other facilities that can provide privacy and support. With some planning and preparation, a day out can be safe and enjoyable. 

19. Volunteer

By volunteering, you canvolunteer workers planting trees. connect with others who share similar interests or passions, which can help to build a sense of community and support. In addition, volunteering can be a way to stay physically active and engaged, improving cognition and hence better bladder and bowel control.

Finally, volunteering can be a way to build self-confidence and a sense of purpose, which helps with self-esteem.  

Of course, it’s necessary to choose volunteer opportunities that are appropriate for your abilities and interests and to be mindful of any physical limitations or concerns related to incontinence.  

20. Quit smoking

Smoking is bad for your overall health, and it irritates the bladder. and cause frequent urination.

Additionally, smoking is known to increase the risk of chronic coughing, which can put extra strain on the pelvic muscles and increase the risk of incontinence.

So, by quitting smoking, you not only help improve your overall health and reduce cancer risk but also potentially reduce the chances of urine leaking if you already have the condition. 

21. Know Your Medication

Medications such as antidepressants to calm your nerves so you can sleep or relax may interfere with bladder function. Alpha-blockers for blood pressure control are another medication that may make it more likely for your bladder to leak urine. 

Knowing your medication and being aware of its potential side effects on bladder control and urine production can help manage your other health symptoms effectively.   

How To Make Your Healthy Habits Stick

Everyone knows eating right, exercising, and practicing self-care are essential to staying physically and mentally healthy. But making those healthy habits part of your daily routine is always challenging. Creating a new habit takes time, persistence, and discipline — but it’s well worth the effort. 

Remember, managing incontinence is a process that takes time and patience. And it is normal to have some good and other not-so-good days with some lifestyle changes you are making. After all the efforts to develop healthy habits, here are some tips to make them stick.

Start small - don’t try to do everything at once

Starting small with some simple change can make a big difference over time. Something that you can manage well within your ability. For instance, going to the bathroom regularly and not holding your urine for long periods. Or getting used to absorbent products for added protection. You can always level up every time you achieve the step, similar to how it would be in a computer game. And, chances are, since these are small bitesize steps, you are more motivated to overcome them and eventually reach your larger goal.

Set A Goal - Something That You Want To Achieve

Do you want to increase thedart hitting a target. time you can go without needing to use the bathroom? Do you want to improve your pelvic floor strength? Once you know what you want to achieve, you can start setting goals to help you get there.

When setting goals, make them specific, measurable, and achievable. For example, instead of setting a vague goal like “improve bladder control,” you could put a specific goal like “increase the amount of time I can go without needing to use the bathroom by 15 minutes within the next two weeks.”

Once you’ve set your goals, develop a plan to achieve them. This may involve practicing pelvic floor exercises regularly, drinking more water, and developing good toileting and hygiene habits.  

Tracking your progress is also essential. Keep a journal or use an app to record your progress and celebrate your successes along the way to keep you motivated and focused.

Use The "Habit Stacking" Technique - Add New Habits To Old Ones

Habit stacking involves adding a new habit to an existing habit, making it easier to stick to and remember.

To use habit stacking, you’ll first need to identify a habit you already do consistently. This could be like brushing your teeth or making your bed in the morning. Then, you’ll add your new habit to the existing one. For example, you could do pelvic floor exercises when brushing your teeth or whenever you sit down for a meal.

Use habit stacking to help you develop good toileting habits, such as going to the bathroom at regular intervals thrughoutdayBy pairing a new habit with an existing habit, you’ll create a trigger that reminds you to do the new habit. This can make it easier to remember and stick to the new habit over time.

By pairing a new habit with an existing one, you’ll create a trigger that reminds you to do the new one. This can make remembering and sticking to the new habit easier over time.

It’s also important to start small when using habit stacking and gradually build up the new habit over time.  

Make It Fun

While you are at it, make building healthy habits fun. One way to do this is to find an activity you enjoy that incorporates the habit you’re trying to develop. For example, try an exercise focusing on pelvic floor exercises or a yoga class emphasizing good posture and deep breathing. Finding an activity you enjoy will make you more likely to stick to the habit and make it a regular part of your routine.

Another way to make building a healthy habit fun is to involve friends or family members. For example, you could create a challenge or competition with others who are also trying to develop healthy habits. Alternatively, you could make it a group activity by going for walks together or trying out new healthy recipes. By involving others, you’ll have a support system and accountability to help you stay motivated.

Rewards can also be a fun way to stay motivated when building a healthy habit. What better way to motivate yourself than a personal rewards system, such as a massage or a movie night after a certain number of days or weeks of sticking to your habit.

Which New Habits Will You Try?

Incontinence can be a frustrating and embarrassing condition, but it can be easily managed with healthy habits such as staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly. As a result, your body is in a better state and mentally better prepared to cope with the stresses and anxiety of urine leaking. 

In addition, developed healthy toileting habits such as setting aside time each day to go to the bathroom, even if you don’t feel like you need to. Finally, keeping a bladder diary will help you track incontinence triggers and enable you to manage better. 

Adjusting to a new habit and lifestyle takes time, but once your body gets used to the routine, you’ll find it easier to go along. Soon, it just became a habit. Similarly, for diet change, try to make small changes to your diet, like adding more fruits and vegetables or swapping out unhealthy snacks for healthier options.

The main thing is to take small steps but set a goal for what you want to achieve. And you don’t have to change all the old habits, too. Instead, try pairing an existing habit with a new one, and be sure to find a habit that you enjoy so that it will naturally become a routine. 

Developing healthy habits takes time and effort, but the benefits are worth it. So don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up – get back on track as soon as possible. And remember to have fun and celebrate your successes along the way!

Tell us which of the habits you are going to implement. Or, if you have a new tip, please add it in the comment box.  

Sources:

  1. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/15-tips-keep-your-bladder-healthy
  2. https://www.continence.org.au/incontinence/medical-conditions/mental-health
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/tips-for-easing-stress-and-anxiety-from-overactive-bladder
  4.  Wing RR, Creasman JM, West DS, Richter HE, Myers D, Burgio KL, Franklin F, Gorin AA, Vittinghoff E, Macer J, Kusek JW, Subak LL; Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise (PRIDE). Improving urinary incontinence in overweight and obese women through modest weight loss. Obstet Gynecol. 2010 Aug;116(2 Pt 1):284-292. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0b013e3181e8fb60. PMID: 20664387; PMCID: PMC3038422.

  5.  Wieland LS, Shrestha N, Lassi ZS, Panda S, Chiaramonte D, Skoetz N. Yoga for treating urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 Feb 28;2(2):CD012668. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD012668.pub2. PMID: 30816997; PMCID: PMC6394377.

  6.  Baker, Jan APRN*; Costa, Donna DHS†; Nygaard, Ingrid MD*. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Treatment of Urinary Urge Incontinence: A Pilot Study. Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery 18(1):p 46-49, January/February 2012. | DOI: 10.1097/SPV.0b013e31824107a6

  7. https://www.brookhavendentalgroup.com/how-can-poor-oral-health-affect-the-rest-of-the-body/
  8. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/learning-new-skill-can-slow-cognitive-aging-201604279502
  9. https://www.urologyhealth.org/healthy-living/care-blog/2018/7-urologic-conditions-impacted-by-smoking
  10. https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/small-steps-big-leaps-briefing-science-getting-people-do-right-thing

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