By Dr. Stem
Life is filled with transitions, so no matter your age or the season, it’s never too late to add healthy habits to your daily routine. As we look into these last days of 2020, I want to encourage you to be hopeful and intentional about 2021.
The following are ways you might choose to live more fully and healthily while pursuing a healthy fresh start.
1. Develop an attitude of gratitude.From both a psychological and physiological point of view, being grateful is good for your health. Research studies have shown that counting our blessings not only reduces depression and stress and lowers blood pressure, but also can slow down some of the effects of aging. (Yes reduces wrinkles and mental exhaustion and weight gain).
2. Commit to becoming more physically fit.You don’t have to become a world-class athlete to get up and move more. Maybe you’ll set a goal of completing a 5-kilometer race. Perhaps more realistic is deciding to walk in your home, around your home or around the nearby park twice a week – or leaving the car at home when running nearby errands and riding a bike instead. I have heard many people who are also connecting on zoom to work out together. I definitely will be asking my sisters to do that with me.
What’s important is finding a routine that works for you – and then sticking to it.
3. Resolve to make quality sleep a priority and placing a priority on maintaining your health.It’s hard to feel your best when you’re exhausted. Plenty of scientific research proves how fundamental sleep is to our overall health. Not only does getting enough quality sleep help you keep extra weight off, but it can reduce some risk factors for heart attacks, strokes, and chronic diseases such as diabetes. It also helps you think more clearly.
I know we are all busy, and it’s easy to put off that medical check-up, vision exam, or health screening. But why not pause to schedule visits to your health professional – and encourage your loved ones and friends to do the same?
After all, good health is the foundation of everything we want to do in life.
4. Plan to strengthen social relationships
Think getting together with others is now a chore and impossible because of the pandemic? Yes it is vital and much needed to connect with others even via phone or video. There are “dozens of studies that have shown that people who have satisfying relationships with family, friends, and their community are happier, have fewer health problems, and live longer.” And they live better.
Scientists have also found that these regular interactions help “relieve harmful levels of stress, which can adversely affect coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system.” Best of all, connecting with someone else doesn’t require money or a special set of skills, effort to connect any which way is all it takes.
5. Make learning a life-long habit
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