Guidelines for a Healthy New Year

By Giselle Birang

This year, move beyond the single statement resolution and form a list of actions. Consider the options below and commit to small daily changes. This can add up to long term healthy habits that can help you reach your goals; whatever they may be.

Here are tips for how to maintain your health year-round:

Sleep: Sleep is a time when the body recovers. Adequate sleep can benefit body weight, heart health, mental state and more. When sleep is limited, it can affect your health in a number of ways. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Numerous studies have found links between insufficient sleep and heart disease, heart attacks, diabetes and obesity.”

Do Now: Set a bedtime alarm to remind yourself to go to sleep and listen to it. Gradually alter it by 15 minute increments until you are achieving an hour more sleep a night.

Drink water: Water accounts for 60 percent of the body and is essential to every cell. Drinking water has many health benefits. According to WedMD, “Drinking water helps to maintain the balance of bodily fluids, energizes muscles, promotes clear and youthful skin and strengthens the body’s kidneys. WebMD states, “The number one cause of afternoon fatigue is dehydration.”

Do Now: Grab the bigger cup at the café and fill it with water in the morning at the same time as your coffee. Put it on your schedule to finish it at certain times throughout the day.

Eat well: Diet plays an integral role in managing health. What you eat can dictate how you feel, how well you sleep, your energy levels and your mood. According to WebMD, “A healthy diet gives your body the nutrients it needs to perform physically, maintain wellness and fight disease.”

Do Now: At a loss for what to cook? Sign up for four weeks of a meal delivery kit that serves healthful options. Once you’re used to cooking the meals they’ve prepared, you’ll have more ideas and more confidence to plan your own.

Move often: Similar to eating right, regular movement not only can help with weight control, mood and energy, but it is instrumental in combating disease. According to the Center for Disease Control, “Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. It can increase your chances of living longer and healthier.”

Do Now: Start or end each day with a 10 minute walk. Add 10 minute increments as you are able until you reach 30 minutes. Keep in mind, a brisk walk is more conducive than a slow stroll.

Take deep breaths: Shallow breathing is often a natural response to stress. Deep breathing promotes relaxation and stimulates blood flow to your organs. Alternatively, shallow breathing, often accompanied by stress, can suppress your immune system and leave you feeling anxious. According to Harvard Health Publications, “Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. This can slow the heartbeat and lower or stabilize blood

Do Now: Breathe in through your nose for a count of four, breathe out through your mouth for a count of six. Repeat this four times, three different times throughout the day.

Laugh: According to WebMD, laughter is thought to be similar to exercise. Dr. William Fry, professor of Psychology at Stanford University, California, claimed it took ten minutes on a rowing machine for his heart rate to reach the level it would be after just one minute of hearty laughter.

Do Now: Share something silly about yourself to a friend, attend a comedy show or listen to a comedy podcast.

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