Monday, April 27, 2009

Staying Healthy in Hard Times

You've probably been hearing about the swine flu outbreak that's spreading around the world from Mexico. Especially if you're without health insurance or afraid you soon may be losing your employer-provided health insurance, the thought of rapidly spreading deadly illness will be particularly terrifying. How will you pay for care if you get sick?

First and foremost, don't panic. Fear can lead us to do counterproductive things, even harmful ones. Remember that even if you have no money, there are still ways to obtain essential medical care. Most cities have free clinics that can provide some basic health care, and there is at least one hospital at which the emergency room will treat anyone with a life-threatening illness or injury, no matter their financial situation.

Second, remember that prevention is the best medicine. There are many ways to avoid becoming infected in the first place, including such basics as regular hand-washing and avoiding people who are ill. You may already have cut back on driving in order to reduce gas costs, but it will also help you avoid being exposed to people who are ill.

Eating healthful foods and keeping rested may seem easier said than done. After all, it seems like crap carbs and fats are always cheaper than good, solid fruits and vegetables, and if you're working three part-time jobs in an effort to keep ahead of your bills, sleep's one of the first things to get sacrificed. But this is a good time to jettison the junk foods you piece on without even thinking about and cut back to only those foods you actually eat as part of a meal, with a plate and silverware. And you may want to re-examine some of your non-work activities and see if some of them can go by the wayside without too much pain.

And you might just find that you feel better even without a looming pandemic to spur you on.

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