If you’re thinking about making some New Year’s resolutions, I’d like to suggest that this year, you go beyond the typical goals of losing weight or exercising more and instead, take a longer view and focus on your entire state of health: mental, physical and emotional. Here are 10 ways to do that.
10 ways to have a healthier 2020
1. Exercise regularly
Yes, I admit, I put “exercise more” as the first one, but this doesn’t mean you suddenly have to run a marathon. You can add more exercise into your life in small, easy steps, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or taking a walk after dinner. The goal is just to move more.
2. Get a flu shot
Every flu season, some people don’t get the flu shot because they think it will actually give them the flu. Not only is this false, it allows the flu to spread. Yes, you might still get the flu, but it will be milder and you will miss less work and life. For your own health and the health of those around you, get vaccinated, every year.
3. Eat a healthy diet
For most people, healthy eating includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, unsaturated vegetable oils, low-fat dairy, unsalted nuts, legumes, fish and chicken. Most important is to limit the processed foods that you eat.
4. Lose weight if you’re overweight
There are many ways to lose weight, but finding a diet that fits with your lifestyle and habits tends to bring the most success. To read my blog about getting to a healthy weight, click here.
5. Find ways to reduce your stress
Stress is a major contributor to high blood pressure, heart disease and a host of other issues. You can lower your stress levels in big ways (changes at work to get away from a belligerent boss) and small (yoga, gardening, meditation, music).
6. Give up smoking
If you smoke, one of the most important things you can do for your health is to stop. It’s a proven fact that smoking is a major contributor to heart disease, stroke, cancer, emphysema and blood clots. There are medicines that can help you quit, plus every state has a QuitLine (800-QUIT-NOW) and local support groups.
7. Get enough sleep
Did you know that if you’re not getting enough sleep, you could be at increased risk for obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, stroke and even early death? An adult between 18-60 years should get seven or more hours per night.
8. Drink more water
Around 60 percent of your body is water. Water lubricates the joints, cushions your brain and spinal cord, regulates body temperature, flushes body waste and helps maintain blood pressure. I recommend the 8x8 rule, which is a goal of eight 8-ounce glasses a day.
9. Find a supportive community
We all tend to function better when surrounded by people who share similar interests. Join a group that likes what you like: hiking, knitting, book club, gym class or a religious/spiritual community.
10. Follow your joy
I can honestly say that my happiest patients are those with something in their lives that brings them joy: their dog, partner, friends, rock climbing, cooking—whatever. Find your joy, then enjoy it as much and as often as you can.