Start 2020 With a Focus on Your Health

The New Year is the perfect time for resolutions—for fresh starts, renewed commitments, and ambitious goals. Although New Years’ resolutions sound amazing on paper, they’re infamous for a reason: few people follow them through. This is probably at least partially because while New Years’ resolutions reflect our ambitions and hopes for the upcoming year, they’re often simply too hard or time consuming to follow through on.

This year, we’re suggesting that you make a few simple self-care New Years’ resolutions to help yourself enjoy a happier, healthier life. If you focus your efforts on self-care resolutions, you’ll be working toward goals that you’ll enjoy reaching, won’t take too much time out of your day, and will benefit you in the long run. If you’re not quite sure where to start, here are a few suggestions.

Start each day with a few calm moments.

There’s a lot to be said for starting each day off on the right foot. While you can’t always control every aspect of your morning, a good way to help yourself feel calm and relaxed each morning instead of rushed or stressed is to start each day with five or 10 minutes of quiet time for yourself. Use this time to do something that relaxes you, like practicing deep breathing or mindfulness techniques, reading your Bible, doing a little light yoga, or writing in your journal. The goal is to choose a short, easy task that lets you feel relaxed, so you may need to try a few different tasks before you find the right one for you. While you’ll probably have to get up a few minutes earlier than you normally do, the difference in your outlook will be worth it.

Set realistic exercise goals.

Exercise is vital for your short- and long-term health, strengthening your immune system, keeping off weight, and reducing your chances of illnesses like heart disease and stroke. As a result, fitting a little exercise into your daily routine is an important part of self-care. Thousands of people make New Years’ resolutions related to exercise, but it’s safe to say that the majority of people don’t stick to their resolution for the entire year—some don’t even get started! Many of these people make the mistake of setting goals that are too ambitious or try to meet their goals immediately instead of working up to them.

You can remedy this by setting realistic exercise goals. Commit to an amount of exercise that you know fits your schedule and your current physical ability; then you can increase the length or intensity of your workout when you’re able. This might mean that you begin by walking or jogging for just 10 or 15 minutes a day, but that’s certainly better than no exercise at all. As you build endurance, you’ll be able to go faster and further, which means that even if you can’t increase the time you can dedicate to exercising, you can increase the intensity of your workout over time.

Adopt or spend time with an animal.

In recent years, studies have shown that pets are great for our mental and physical health. They lower your stress and anxiety levels, help reduce depression, and encourage us to be more active and social—which then lowers your cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease. If you’re able to, adopting a pet is a great way to improve your mood and to encourage yourself to stay active and meet your daily exercise goals. Dogs are particularly great at this since they require daily walks. Not everyone is able to have pets for one reason or another, but if you can it’s still a great idea to find a way to be around them, either by volunteering at a shelter or by visiting a friend to—at least in part—give their pet some attention.

Commit to visiting your doctor and dentist regularly.

Your health is incredibly important, so it’s vital that you start taking care of it now—no matter how young or healthy you are. You should visit your primary care physician for an exam once a year just to make sure everything is on track. Similarly, you should visit Dr. Alhadef twice a year to make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy. Regular appointments allow Dr. Alhadef and your primary care physician to spot issues early—before they become major problems and need more involved treatments.

When you wait for a small health issue to become big it can wind up affecting your entire body—even if the initial issue only involves your oral health. It may sound surprising, but issues like gum disease can wreak havoc on your teeth and cause major health issues in the long term, such as increasing your likelihood of suffering from a heart attack or stroke. So for the New Year, commit to investing just a little bit of time to protecting your health through prevention by going to your regularly scheduled check-ups. When it comes down to it, putting aside three or four hours out of your year isn’t a huge or unrealistic resolution.

Drop one of your bad habits.

This is a resolution you can repeat each year for a different habit. We all have habits that aren’t the best for our health. Each year, take an honest look at your habits and choose one to give up. Habits like smoking or an unhealthy diet are easy to fall into but are bad for your short- and long-term health; both are harmful to your oral health and increase your chances of getting diseases later on in life. Don’t feel pressured to drop your habit cold-turkey, though—that will simply increase your chances of not following through with your resolution.

If you decide to quit smoking, there are plenty of options to help you wean off cigarettes slowly. Similarly, if you want to give up—or cut down on—eating junk food, you can introduce healthier foods slowly rather than quitting all at once. It’ll take longer for you to transition to a healthier diet, but your chances of succeeding are higher—and the process won’t feel so miserable! Dropping bad habits is just as important for your health as starting good habits is; while it’ll certainly improve your long-term health, you’ll also likely notice a difference in the way you feel on a daily basis.

The New Year is a great chance to commit yourself to making positive changes in your life by cutting bad habits and taking up good ones, but it’s important to set your sights on goals that you’re more likely to fulfill. When you choose resolutions that are realistic, enjoyable, and healthy, you’re more likely to turn your New Years’ resolution into a permanent aspect of your daily life, allowing you to reap the benefits of better mental and physical health for years to come.

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