There is no miracle pill you can take to banish all ailments and prevent every infection and illness. But it is possible to reduce the risk of developing certain conditions. Adopting a healthy lifestyle and taking good care of your body and mind can go a long way to protecting your mental and physical health. Here are some preventative steps you can take today.

Don’t bottle things up

When you feel angry, upset, frustrated or stressed out, what do you normally do? Do you try and release tension? Do you chat with friends or family members? Or are you guilty of bottling things up or burying your head in the sand? Many of us are not very good at opening up and taking steps to manage or process our emotions. We’re happy to talk about physical health issues, such as the flu or back pain, but we find it much more difficult to tell others about how we feel if life gets tough or we feel low.

Mental health is something we should all be thinking about. Even if you’re blissfully content, there are things you can do to protect your mental well-being. Just as you can condition your body to reduce the risk of injuries, you can shield your mind too. Talk about how you feel or find ways to control and express emotions.

If you don’t want to open up, or there’s nobody around to speak to after a stressful day, try writing or get creative and paint or draw. You might also find exercise cathartic. Exercises like yoga and Pilates can help to induce calm, while high-intensity activities like boxing, running and spinning can be great for channeling anger, frustration or restlessness in a positive way. It’s important to understand the difference between ‘normal’ emotions and signs of mental illness. We all experience anxiety, sadness and irritability. But if you feel sad for long periods of time, anxious when there is no clear cause, or never feel calm or at ease, it’s wise to seek medical advice.

See a doctor if you have health concerns

Many of us will brush over aches and pains or changes in our mental health in the hope that whatever is causing them will magically disappear. While some symptoms are short-lived, and they’re indicative of mild ailments, which don’t require any treatment, it can be dangerous to ignore persistent or severe symptoms. See a doctor if you don’t feel well, you have symptoms that are getting worse or you’re struggling with chronic pain.

Identifying abnormal signs early can often improve the chances of successful treatment and provide peace of mind. There are solutions for many health problems, and seeking advice can help to prevent deterioration and enable you to manage symptoms. If you’re prone to back or shoulder pain, don’t struggle in silence. Doctors, physical therapists and holistic health professionals can help you to get relief from chronic pain and enhance comfort and well-being.

If you don’t feel yourself, you’ve noticed changes in your behavior or your moods, or you’ve been feeling down for a long time, reach out. Therapies like counseling and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) can help to improve mental health. If you have concerns about changes in your bowel habits, you’ve lost weight, your appetite has gone, or you’ve found a lump, make an appointment. In many cases, there will be nothing to worry about, but it’s always best to err on the side of caution.

Keep on top of health checks

Be honest. When was the last time you went to the dentist, you had your hearing and sight tested, or you checked your BMI or your blood pressure? If you haven’t had a dental check-up for years, you can’t remember the last eye test you had, or you have no idea how much you weigh or what your blood pressure is, now is the time to make some appointments. Keeping up with basic tests and checks is a simple, hassle-free way to reduce the risk of problems and protect your health. If there are any signs of hearing loss or changes in your vision, or your blood pressure is a little on the high side, you can take steps to avoid further issues, for example, wearing glasses, using ear protectors at work or increasing activity levels.

It’s not possible to protect against every illness or injury, but there are some very simple ways you can boost your health and well-being and lower the risk of health problems. Take these tips on board to start building towards a healthier, happier future today.