Though well-intended, New Year’s resolutions often fizzle out within a few months, if not weeks. There are no excuses for putting off a healthy lifestyle “until tomorrow” (or maybe even next year!) with these helpful tips:
GO TO SLEEP EARLIER
Deadlines and busy schedules are everyday challenges that impede our ability to catch enough quality Zzz’s. Staying up an extra hour to watch television or finishing an assignment before bed can cause unfavorable effects in the morning. In fact, sleeping less than seven hours each night can reduce your life expectancy and even cause a person to gain 2 pounds in just one week. Studies show that for every hour of lost sleep, a person’s psychological stress increases by 14 percent, which can cause minor and severe problems such as acne blemishes, mental illness and heart disease. Self-imposed sleep deprivation is also responsible for cognitive health defects, including impaired judgment and motor skills. Nearly 100,000 reported vehicular accidents occur each year in the US due to excessive drowsiness. In fact, once a person’s brain reduces to 70 percent effectiveness, their brain function is equivalent to having a 0.08 blood alcohol level. For your best night’s sleep, drink a glass of water before bed, part ways with all devices with screens and set the thermostat between 65 and 72 degrees.
Only 10 percent of Americans observe the federal diet guideline. Obesity in the US has plagued more than one-third of adults, and another third of adults are considered overweight. Further, 1 in 4 American adults that appear skinny by society’s standard are actually metabolically unhealthy in terms of eating habits. Processed foods are undoubtedly convenient, but the chronic consumption of sodium, saturated fat, sugar and trans fat are destructive to long and short-term health. Eating unhealthy fats or skipping a meal inhibits the brain from receiving enough glucose to function properly and can increase the risk of diabetes. There are a plethora of physical health problems associated with unhealthy eating habits, but the foods you consume drastically affect your mental health too. Neglecting to feed your body a balanced diet of carbohydrates results in a low production of dopamine and serotonin, the chemicals that promote a positive mood. Challenge yourself to discover a sensible alternative for the unhealthy eating habits you may have. Instead of inhaling those french fries, indulge in a lightly salted avocado or popcorn. Before you know it, you will prefer the taste and beneficial effects that healthy foods have to offer.
Feeling stressed is your body’s natural reaction to experiencing a minor or significant change, resulting in a response that thwarts or enhances your performance. Those who experience stress over a prolonged period of time, however, are victims of chronic stress, which can ultimately cause uncomfortable physical symptoms including headaches, diabetes, asthma, skin conditions, anxiety and heart problems. Thankfully, acute and chronic stresses are easily treatable with natural remedies and lifestyle changes. Consider walking outside to absorb the crisp morning breeze before work; a meditative walk can give your brain the mental silence and relaxation it needs to function throughout a long workday. If you find yourself stressed in the office, remember that there is no amount of stress that laughing, good company and exercise can’t fix.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE INFLUENCES
Happiness is undeniably contagious, and according to one study, your level of happiness can positively affect someone two to three degrees removed from you. Everyone has an inner critic of sorts, but spending time with optimistic people helps subdue the negativity within us. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true for spending time with depressed or high-anxiety individuals. Reflect on the five people you spend the most time with; your personality traits and mood are the average of these people. Think about that. Focus your attention on the people who you admire. Understand what positive qualities you deem as respectable and commit to building relationships with like minded people.
KNOW YOUR FAMILY MEDICAL HISTORY
Aside from being able to best support your family, familiarizing yourself with your family’s medical history is useful in determining which tests and screenings are appropriate for you. A complete medical record includes up to three generations of relatives and immediate family members’ medical history, suggesting patterns of health disorders that you may be predisposed to. Knowing your medical history can prevent or lessen the symptoms of an inherited disorder, but it does not necessarily preclude you from developing a disease unknown to your genetic line. Likewise, a genetic disorder does not guarantee that every family member will develop the same problem. Healthcare providers recommend memorizing the following information of your family history: chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure, food and medication allergies, blood type, medical insurance information and any reasons for hospital visits such as heart attacks or strokes. Now is just as good as ever to decide to be more healthy. Wellness is a journey, and we’ll be here to get you back on track should you or your family need medical attention along the way.