A new year often signifies a fresh start for many people. Everyone has their own personal area(s) which they want to work on and reap the rewards, however it’s so important to remember to be realistic, especially after an extremely challenging 2021, and again, with COVID-19 very much present.
For many people, setting health goals makes the most sense, as we’ve seen how quickly our health can be affected. A lot of people are looking at ways to impactfully improve their wellbeing and look after their health, and are looking at options of private healthcare plans to help with peace of mind.
Often, the health resolutions chosen are highly restrictive and unsustainable, leading many people to break their resolutions within a few weeks, and give up completely. To break that cycle, it’s important to make resolutions that can not only improve health in the short term, but also can be maintained for the long term too.
- Set Realistic Health Goals
Being reasonable and clear-sighted about what you want to achieve for the upcoming year is so imperative, as we don’t want to feel like a failure if we don’t live up to our unrealistic expectations. Especially when it comes to health and fitness, you need time, patience and resilience.
Write a monthly target and a target to review in 12 months time. Do you want to lose weight? How much is realistic in your current lifestyle / circumstances? Do you want to run a race? Why not sign up to Couch-5KM, instead of that Marathon? Do you want to eat healthier and save some money? Is it realistic to take packed lunches to work 4x a week and treat yourself every Friday? Do you want to increase your heart rate and fitness levels? How about a 30 minute walk during your lunch break or walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator?
2. Reduce your stress
As we all know, the accumulated stresses of everyday life can damage your health in irreversible ways — from early aging to heart problems to long-term disability. The connection between mind and body is often underestimated. That’s because the high demands stress puts on the body make the immune system suffer, which makes you more vulnerable to colds and infections.
As experienced during the past two years of the pandemic, it’s so evident that stressful situations can culminate quickly, without us even knowing. You can go from feeling fine to overwhelmed in a very short period of time. A lot of people associate stress relief with having a massage or going to the spa, which is wonderful, however not sustainable long term every time stress creeps in. This year, why not choose 1-2 destressing strategies and really focus on these to change your mood? These can include breathing techniques, mini-meditations, muscle relaxation and grounding techniques.
3. Fitness and exercise
Physical exercise and fitness is one the best ways to stay healthy, as well as maintaining your physical and mental wellbeing. Regular exercising throughout the week can aid in weight loss, reducing your risk of illness, strengthening your muscles and help reducing the impacts of stress and anxiety.
Exercise needs to be done over time. If you’re not used to regular exercise or feel like you don’t have time in your schedule for it, try easier activities like a lunchtime walk, a short YouTube workout at home or a yoga / Pilates class online. There’s no need to go out and purchase equipment with all the bells and whistles nor signing up to the best gym in town. The most important thing is to get moving and stay active.
4. Visit your Doctor
It’s so important to get examined by your healthcare practioner on a regular basis. By having annual blood works / screenings, potential problems may be picked up before turning into something more serious. Knowing any risk factors early on and being proactive with your health gives you the potential to prevent some illnesses and live with a better quality of health.
There may be multiple reasons people don’t regularly go for a health check, as they can be uncomfortable. Whether it’s down to a lack of understanding why its needed, the fear of the results and potential procedures, the time or whether or not to wait on NHS or go privately, only 33% of people who could benefit actually attend (British Journal of General Practice).
5. Boost your immune system with Vitamins
A healthy diet should cover all the necessary minerals and vitamins one may need. However, we all know that in our busy lives, this is not always possible. Consider boosting your immune system with suitable supplements and vitamins to ensure you’re as strong and healthy as can be, especially with COVID-19 so rampant.
6. Prioritise sleep quality
We all know that it’s hard to feel your best when you’re exhausted, especially after an extended period of chronic exhaustion. According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep is an essential function which allows both your body and mind to recharge. Good quality sleep also helps the body remain healthy and stave off those unwanted viruses and diseases. Adults should have between 7-9 hours a night, whereas children need more.
A big shortcoming of our generation is the use of technology before bedtime. Research has shown that the blue light from your computer, phone, and TV can keep you up at night by disturbing your circadian rhythm by inhibiting melatonin production, which keeps us awake and causes difficulties trying to wind down and sleep.
7. Limit Screen Time / Digital Detox
A digital detox refers to a period of time when a person refrains from using any technological devices – phones, TV, laptops, tablets – and focuses on the present and real-life interactions without distractions. Being connected constantly has many side-effects including disrupted sleep, it may create / aggravate mental health concerns, it can affect a work-life balance, social comparisons are more prevalent and increased levels of anxiety.
Being connected and immerse in the digital world is part of everyday living, however it does have the potential to be all-consuming and overwhelming. In addition, some suffer from technology addiction which can lead to physical, psychological, and social problems. Some ways to detox include setting time boundaries for technology-free time, using your device with purpose and not always for mindless scrolling, getting out the house and exercising as well as spending more face-to-face time with your family and friends.
8. Healthy eating and drinking
Often the word “diet” carries multiple negative connotations before the diet has even begun. Rather eating healthy food and watching what you drink can help reduce your risk of illness such as diabetes and heart diseases. In addition it can boost your energy and moods, sharpen your mind and contribute to improved mental health.
Simple changes can make big differences. Why not incorporating more fruit and vegetables into your daily food intake, or drink 6 glasses of water a day instead of sugary beverages? Reading the labels and being aware of portion size can also massively make a difference to one’s health.
Most importantly, be realistic. Changing your eating habits overnight is tough and unsustainable. Make your healthy eating an easier and longer-lasting shift by making one or two healthy changes at a time. Soon, they’ll add up over time and help you maintain your new healthy eating habits without feeling like you’ve pivoted completely.
9. Take care of your Teeth
Maintaining your oral health is a New Year’s resolution that can and should be sustained for life. Brushing and flossing your teeth regularly can help prevent oral conditions such as gum disease and bad breath. Paying a visit to the dentist should be part of your oral care. If you have a private healthcare policy, oral hygiene may very well be covered.
10. Stay motivated
There will of course be the occasional hurdle or roadblock in your health and wellbeing resolutions due to lack of time and busy schedules, a loss of motivation and dedication or you experience a weigh-loss plateaus. But this is the time to persevere and not give up!
Go back to your health goals and recap why you chose these resolutions. Remember to also celebrate the small wins and changes along the way as this will give you impetus to keep on going and achieving good health.