The New Year always brings an opportunity for change, and many of us feel it’s the best time to initiate positive changes when 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?
We’re here with our expert, board-certified nurse practitioner Stela Karkatselos, APRN, who shares five of the most simple and effective steps you can take to make this year your best yet in body, mind and spirit.
1. 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 may have,” Stela encourages. “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.”
2. Get Moving
“Make a plan and get active. Make sure your physical activity is at a quick enough pace that you can’t hold a conversation. Do it every day for 30 minutes.”
Getting started can be as simple as walking in one direction for 15 minutes and then walking back.
3. Rest When You Need It
Physical activity is important, but so is rest. Without the right amount of quality sleep, it’s a lot harder to function, recover, get healthy, stay healthy, manage weight and keep your calm.
“You need 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night. If you’re not getting it, let your provider know,” says Stela.
4. Eat, Hydrate and Be Healthy
“Ask for your provider’s nutritional recommendations based on the findings of your physical exam,” advises Stela. “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.”
5. Nurture Your Mental and Emotional Health
It's natural to want to leave behind any stress and negativity left over from last year, but it’s also important to recognize that a new year may also bring new challenges with it. Give yourself grace as you navigate these changes, and watch out for signs that stress and anxiety are having physical and emotional consequences for you and your loved ones. Warning signs include:
- Anger or irritability
- Feeling burned out
- Lack of motivation
- Physical symptoms, 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,” Stela says.
Start the year off right by scheduling an annual physical with a primary care provider at AHMGPasco.com.