The new year always brings a new opportunity for change, and this year more than possibly ever before, many of us feel there’s some room for improvement in our lives.
Whether you want to increase your physical fitness, or further develop your relationships or work-life balance, January is an excellent time to take stock and set goals. If you have a sense that something is missing, or that you could feel stronger, more fulfilled, or more at peace, what realistic changes can you make that might bring you balance?
Here are some simple and effective steps you can take to make this year the year you feel your best in body, mind and spirit.
See Your Primary Care Provider
Make an appointment and initiate an open and honest conversation about your real health goals and what you and your care team can do to achieve them.
Talk about your emotional and mental health and any concerns you have there. How is your attention span? Are you overly tired? It’s all connected to your overall wellness.
Your doctor will likely start with a physical to get baseline numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol and other important measurements. That way, you can track your health progress and make lifestyle or medication modifications if necessary.
Make a plan and then get active and make it a quick enough pace that you can’t hold a conversation. Do it every day for 30 minutes.
Getting started is as simple as walking in one direction for 15 minutes and walking back.
Rest When You Need It
Physical activity is important, but so is rest. Without the right kind and right amount of sleep, you cannot function, recover, get healthy, stay healthy, control weight or keep your sanity. You need 7 – 8 hours per night, and if you’re not getting it, your doctor needs to know.
Eat, Hydrate and Be Healthy
Get your doctor’s nutritional recommendations based on the findings of your physical. If you need to lose weight, prepare healthy meals in advance so that you’re not tempted to eat out or grab quick, processed food. Drink water — a lot of it — and let that be the majority of what you drink.
Nurture Your Mental and Emotional Health
It's natural to want to leave behind the stress and negativity from the last couple of years, but also important to recognize that a new year may also bring new challenges. Give yourself grace as you navigate these changes and watch for signs that stress and anxiety are having physical and emotional consequences in yourself and your loved ones. Warning signs include:
- Anger or irritability
- Feeling burned out
- Lack of motivation
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, pain, stomach problems and rashes
- Sadness, hopelessness and depression
- Trouble concentrating or sleeping
- Worsening of chronic or mental health conditions
When you start to notice these red flags, get proactive about managing your stress by reaching out to loved ones and doing activities that you enjoy.