12 Key Areas of Healthy Change
Resolutions to keep for a lifetime
Welcome to the New Year! After the first few weeks, many of us may still be considering 2017 resolutions and deciding how we are going to keep them. One way to approach healthy change is breaking it up into small steps and tackling them one at a time. You know the drill – “the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.”
Here are 12 areas to consider for healthy changes in 2017 broken up by five dimensions of health and wellness:
There are many ways to keep your physical body fit; here are a few ideas to consider when setting your goals:
1. Stay connected with your medical team. Keeping your body healthy requires a little more than hitting the gym. Regular checkups matter. Consider asking for blood work and a full physical to get a starting point on important numbers such body mass index, waist-to-hip ratio, blood sugar, LDL (bad) cholesterol, HDL (good) cholesterol, and T-score that can indicate bone mass (density). The same goes for age appropriate tests such as mammograms and colonoscopies.
2. Keep all your important dates. Go to the Dentist and Eye Doctor! Beyond medical visits, schedule – and attend – an annual vision exam and see your dentist twice a year. Your eyes and mouth are key windows into your health, and you need to stay on track with your regular preventive appointments not only to maintain, but also to catch any issues early on.
3. Eat real food. The Food Guide Pyramid has been revised several times throughout the years. However, the basics remain the same. Regardless of the latest diet to tell you the fad of the year, keeping your body fueled with real, whole foods can help you feel better today and in the future. Research what is recommended by experts and learn to make foods at home that you and your family enjoy.
4. Hydration. Beyond quenching our thirst, staying properly hydrated alleviates many potential health issues. Water is the body's transportation system and systems can break down quickly without it. Staying hydrated can keep you happier, thinking clearer, lose weight, ease joint pain, reduce headaches and make your skin glow! Try to drink half of your bodyweight in ounces of water, eat raw fruits and veggies, and carry a refillable water bottle with you everywhere. Consider drinking a tall glass of cold water first thing when you wake up – before you consume caffeine. It's an easy habit to get into once you start!1
5. Get moving. Any way you like to move can help you maintain or lose weight and increase muscle mass. Have you tried swimming, yoga, walking, or a new workout DVD? Challenge yourself to try something new to get motivated to move more.
6. Smile Power. Dental health can be a critical step to overall health. Forming daily habits of brushing and flossing will keep your smile bright and your body healthy. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day. Brush gently and pay special attention to the gum line. Also, use floss or an interdental cleaner to clean between your teeth at least once daily. If you constantly need to use mouthwash or breath freshener because of bad breath, talk with your dentist.2
7. Don't skip the shuteye. How many hours of sleep do you average per night? Getting enough quality sleep is critical. Do whatever it takes to make sure you are adequately rested and energized for the day ahead. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults need seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night, though some need more or less.3
Emotional & Mental Care Goals
8. Managing stress. How much stress do you typically face each day? How well are you managing your emotions especially when dealing with difficult people? We can only control our own reaction to stressors, so now's a perfect time to learn about how to manage your time, resolve conflict or improve productivity through books, videos or classes. If you find yourself constantly on edge, why not talk to a therapist to individualize a plan to help you? Last, be sure you have built a strong support network of family and friends that you can reach out to. Many times, just talking through a situation or even writing it down can help release your frustration.
9. Mindfulness. The idea of practicing being present may sound odd, but in a multitasking world with so many distractions, focusing solely on the current conversation or situation can be difficult. Ironically, you can use your smartphone or computer to help you practice being present by downloading a meditation app or setting up your calendar and timers to plan your day to include breaks for relaxation and focus.
Intellectual Care Goals
10. Challenge your brain. When the last time you finished a new book or puzzle, or learned a new game? Doing something that challenges your brain to think in new and creative ways can be energizing and rewarding. Consider trying to learn a new language or to play a musical instrument – better yet, get a friend or two to join you.
Social Interactions Goals
11. Social outlets, not social media. Even if you think of yourself as an introvert and you value your quiet time, human interaction is a basic need. This does not include connecting using social media outlets. Real friendships and family connections can brighten your mood and also give you access to new ideas and advice to help you on your journey. Does it seem overwhelming to keep up with everyone? Narrow down your acquaintances to two or three people with whom that you already have a connection. Focus on investing in their life – connect with them throughout the month to build a closer relationship.
12. Big purpose, big picture. Instinctively, we constantly look for purpose and meaning in our lives. If we wander through life without considering our purpose, we often find it difficult to see the big picture of our life and instead focus on the negatives of ordinary everyday life. There are many ways to find a spiritual path so look at some of your past experiences, family traditions, and also options available in your community.
Change usually begins with a number of small attainable steps. For example, drinking enough water each day can lead to increased energy, which leads to more exercise and movement that can help us manage our stress. We all get stuck in habits in our life, consider making some new habits to break the cycle of the old ones! Happy New Year!
1. [Source: https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/nutrition/]↩
2. [Source: http://oralhealth.deltadental.com/Adult/BadBreath/22,Delta80#sthash.co2LRure.dpuf ]↩
3. [Source: https://sleepfoundation.org/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times ]↩