Being Your Healthiest in 2022
2021 was another challenging year for many of us – physically, mentally and emotionally – as coronavirus maintained its grip on everyday life. Besides protecting ourselves against COVID-19 and its variants, there are traditional measures we all can take to jump-start 2022 in the healthiest way possible.
We often set vague goals for ourselves at the start of each new year, such as working out more or eating better. According to the American Psychology Association, those are much less effective than specific, manageable goals, like scheduling three workout sessions a week or replacing ice cream with fruit for dessert. Being able to stick to your resolutions means you are more likely to establish healthier habits. In this newsletter, our partner SilverSneakers also offers some tips for setting goals in the new year to help you achieve your fitness goals.
Looking to reduce stress? Did you know that at least 60 to 80 percent of all primary care visits are stress-related? Many doctors suggest trying activities that promote mindfulness and lower stress, like stretching for a few minutes each morning and walking outdoors at least once a day. Some recommend focusing on breathing for five minutes in the morning and five minutes in the afternoon. Inhaling through your nose instead of your mouth lets you capture more oxygen and improve the flow of air and blood in your lungs.
GETTING MORE REST
Is getting more rest among your New Year’s resolutions? Adults that get less than seven hours of sleep a night are typically less active and tend to be obese. They’re also more likely to suffer from a variety of health problems, including coronary heart disease, asthma, arthritis, depression and diabetes. Healthy adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night, but if you haven’t been getting that much, it can be tough to suddenly add an hour or two to your sleep cycle. Consider going to bed just 15 minutes earlier each night. If it helps, pencil an early bedtime into your daily schedule. Once those 15 minutes become routine, add another 15 minutes and so on until you reach your goal of seven or more hours of sleep a night.
Want to eat better? Consider mindful eating instead of a diet fad. When you focus on what’s going into your mouth and slow down between bites, you are less likely to overeat because you will recognize when you are full. Over time, you’ll develop a greater awareness about your food and what your body needs. Mindful eating can also include swapping unhealthy foods for healthier options. But rather than ditching all the foods you love at once, try incorporating one or two changes at a time. For example, if you regularly eat scrambled eggs for breakfast, add a handful of spinach or some tomatoes when you cook them. Or, try swapping a sugary drink for a glass of water. Once you make these small swaps consistently, add in another one. Over time, a few small swaps will add up to big dietary changes.
And, finally, take a few minutes each day to reflect on the things you’re grateful for and write them down. Concentrating on the good helps you focus and keep a positive attitude. On the tough days, going back to the things you’ve written down in the past can be a good reminder.