walking

Does all the drama over the Affordable Care Act got you feeling overwhelmed? With or without health insurance, health care is often an expensive endeavor. While affordability is often a matter of perception and priorities, there are actually many healthy living steps you can take to improve your health for free. Free doesn’t always mean easy, and in fact many of the best health boosters require you to make a little effort.

While Obama and the rest of the government try to hash through the confusion of the Affordable Care Act rollout and website relaunch, one thing is certain: this is not the best season to fall ill, get diagnosed with a disease or have a medical emergency. Health insurance companies, doctors, hospitals and everyone else will be struggling to make sense of the new requirements and plans.

Of course, any season is a good time to improve your health for free. Try the following affordable care acts and treat yourself to free health living – no government or doctor needed!

1. Wash your hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that hand washing is the very best way to prevent disease and illness from spreading. Wash your hands correctly and often, and you’ll stop the spread of germs. Moreover, your healthy behavior may even inspire those around you to do the same.

2. Take a walk. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can cause chronic back pain, metabolic problems and a fat ass. Cold winter weather may make you want to stay indoors, but this is precisely the season you need to get out and exercise. Commit to a daily walk and enjoy side benefits to your mental health as well.

3. Reframe your perspective. Chances are, you have a physical or digital folder to keep up with important health care procedures, plans and documents. How is your folder labeled? Words have power, and terms like “medicine” or “medical care” have a more negative connotation than the words “health” or “health care.” Reframe your perspective on your health. You may even want to label the folder “feel good” or “strong body and mind!”

4. Take responsibility for your health care. If you don’t have a folder as mentioned above, start one now. You are responsible for your health care, not your doctor, your nurses, your yoga teacher and certainly not your government. Accepting responsibility for your health will give you a powerful feeling of control in an otherwise uncontrollable world.

5. Stop buying junk. If you don’t buy junk food, you can’t eat it. Save money and your future health by filling your grocery cart with healthy items only. You’ll find this easier to do if you commit to always shopping with a list (and sticking to it), and never hitting the supermarket when you are hungry, tired, pissed off or PMSing.

6. Meditate. The way you choose to handle stress is one of the most important factors that affect your health (along with the food that you put into your body). Life is stressful. You can choose to freak out about it, or you can choose to chill. Meditating can help, so carve out some silence for yourself every day.

7. Laugh at life. Make your bad habits better by learning to laugh at yourself. If you can’t go cold-turkey on TV, at least choose funny shows that make you giggle instead of intense crime shows, sad drama or even worse – the news. Don’t take life so seriously and realize that your reaction to struggle not only affects yourself, but also your friends, loved ones and children.

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