The new year brings a fresh opportunity to do better than we’ve done in the past, so traditionally this is the time when people vow to improve various aspects of their lives.
The problem is, so many of us bite off more than we can chew, resolution-wise, and come the middle of January, those hopeful resolutions are as unnoticed as the New Year’s confetti lurking behind the sofa.
Your physicians at the Medical Group of South Florida believe the keys to making and keeping successful resolutions regarding health is to keep them modest, make sure they’re easy to work into our daily lives, and congratulate ourselves for small steps.
When it comes to your health, any progress is better than none. Use that as a daily mantra to help you keep moving along the continuum toward better health.
1. Cut back on smoking
You don’t need us to tell you why smoking is bad for your health. You know you need to quit. But, if you can’t quit, at the very least, cut back. Vow to smoke only once every hour, or once every other hour. Delay that first morning cigarette for a few minutes, or even longer. Reach for a stick of gum instead of a cigarette every other time you want a cigarette. You may find that cutting back will make it easier to quit eventually. And when you’re ready for that, let us know. We have many ways to help you that can make it easier that you ever thought possible.
2. Get more exercise
Any kind of exercise is good for your overall health. But if you can’t manage a daily workout of 30 minutes or more, try 20 minutes, or 10 minutes. Or try to take the stairs more often. Don’t always look for the closest parking spot—even those few extra steps count. Walking is a wonderful exercise. Try to spare 10 or 15 minutes a day for a quick walk at lunch, or around your neighborhood before work or after dinner. Even just standing while on the phone or fidgeting at your desk will make a difference.
3. Get more sleep
As the Centers for Disease Control says, sleep is a necessity, not a luxury. All of us miss some sleep occasionally, but for robust good health, we really should average eight hours per night. Put down the smartphone, turn off the TV an hour earlier. Make a list of things you can put off until tomorrow so you can get to bed tonight. If worries keep you awake, list them, too, then put them aside for the morning. If you suspect sleep apnea or any other medical condition is interfering with your sleep, we can help.
4. Cut stress
Yoga, tai chi, meditation, deep breathing—find something that helps you de-stress and just aim for 10 minutes a day. If you can do more, even better. Cut back on your news consumption: Watch or read enough so you’re aware of major events, but not so much that you stress over things you can’t control. Add a family fun night to your schedule, or watch a funny movie, or read a book.
5. Eat better
Just a little better. Add one fruit or vegetable to your daily menu, or switch out a meal of red meat for fish once a week. You could save desserts for the weekend, or cut out just one processed food you now eat regularly. Try for fresh or frozen produce and avoid canned where possible.
Big changes are hard for humans, but little ones are easier. And in all these cases, little things can add up to big results.