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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.
Remember, change can be challenging, but moments of transition are the perfect times to get plans in place to help yourself and your family feel whole.
See Your Primary Care Provider
Make an appointment with your primary care provider and initiate an open and honest conversation about your real health goals and what you and your care team can do to achieve them.
Tell your doctor: ‘I’m ready to change, to maximize my health, and I need your help."
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.
To find the right primary care provider for you, visit the physician finder and search in your area.
According to AdventHealth primary care provider Dr. Matthew Ho, "Nothing symbolizes change quite like the New Year. The whole world celebrates with lights, music and fireworks unlike any other time of the year- all in celebration of moving forward. Moving forward is the only choice- after a year in which many of us spent in health uncertainty- let us all learn from the year and commit to refocusing on our general health. Visiting your primary care physician could be your first step."
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.
You won’t believe how much better you’ll feel meeting this goal. Getting started is as simple as walking in one direction for 15 minutes and walking back. Do whatever it takes to make time — it’s not an exaggeration that regular exercise greatly improves your whole health.
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.
If you do feel like you’re sleeping but are still tired, that’s a problem. People think significant fatigue is a natural part of aging, but it isn’t. If you’re waking up tired, you may have a treatable sleep disorder. It’s easy to find out.
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.
Hardly anyone drinks enough water. The benefits of hydration are real. Challenge yourself to drink 64 ounces a day for a week and see how you feel.
By setting realistic and trackable goals for the new year, you’re more likely to stick with them and stay motivated.
Nurture Your Mental and Emotional Health
It's natural to want to leave behind the stress and negativity from 2020, 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. You can also reach out to mental health professionals.