I’ve been asking my patients over the past week or two what their New Year’s Resolutions are, and I’ve gotten a wide variety of answers, from no resolutions to a long list of goals with detailed pathways of attaining them.
Whatever your wellness plans for 2023, here are 7 things that I recommend including in your life:
- Start a mindfulness practice. In his article, “Mindfulness Hurts. That’s Why it Works,” Arthur C. Brooks details why focusing on the present and facing problems head on helps us deal with physical and emotional pain as well as understanding our emotions as transient. I use Headspace for meditation and mindfulness, but there are a number of options out there.
- Get some exercise. Exercise is one of the best things that we can do for ourselves to promote wellness. Exercise causes endorphin release (which can help improve mood) and neurogenesis in the hippocampus (which is involved in learning and memory) while improving cardiorespiratory fitness. And exercise does not have to be painful or grueling. It’s most important to find something that you enjoy doing that you can do consistently. Maybe reconnect with a friend for a walk outside or trying a new fitness class? Just make sure that you listen to your body and start out slowly to avoid injury.
- Eat your vegetables. Seriously, folks, eat those veggies! When I was a kid, I had to stay at the table until I ate as many pieces of the dinner vegetable as I was years old (e.g., if I was 5 years old, I had to eat 5 pieces of broccoli). Now that I am older and love most vegetables, I don’t need to be forced into eating them, but if any of you need my mom to hover over you at dinner, I’m sure she’d be happy to help. Vegetables are great sources of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Even if you’re not a fan of every vegetable, just making an effort to eat more vegetables and real food and limiting processed foods (like simple carbohydrates and processed meats) is helpful for reducing your risk of some metabolic diseases.
- Get some sleep. Poor sleep is associated with decreased concentration, poor mood, decreased reaction time, and possibly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease as well as obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Make a bedtime routine and turn off screens (TVs, phones, computers, tablets, etc) at least 45 minutes before bedtime. Make sure your room is dark and if you wake up in the middle of the night, avoid getting back on screens or looking at the clock. The VA has an app for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for sleep if you still struggle despite making changes around sleep hygiene.
- Set Boundaries. Setting boundaries has been something that I have struggled with most of my life, but I am learning how important it is to learn how to say no. Saying no to things that do not serve you or things that do not fit your moral narrative or personal mission statement means decreasing conflict within yourself and with others and allows you to prioritize the things that bring value to your life and those around you. As with mindfulness, this can be hard to put into practice initially, but be patient with yourself as you learn to find your boundary voice.
- Unplug. In the 90s (best decade, am I right?!?), MTV had a show called “Unplugged” and different musical artists would appear and play acoustic sets of their songs. There were some real bangers (I think that’s what the kids call good songs these days) in those episodes. Know what else was going on in the 90s? Dial up internet, not a lot of cellphones and definitely no smart phones. Although it’s hard, try to leave your phone behind on occasion. I’m not saying to leave it behind when you need it for work or an emergency, but maybe when you are out for a walk or at dinner with friends. My husband and I have a rule that whoever pulls their phone out first has to pay for dinner. Also think about not turning on the TV when you are not watching it.
- Be grateful. Make a list of 5 things every day for which you are grateful while avoiding repeats throughout the week. It’s amazing the shift in your perspective that you will see and how it can help improve your mood.
Avance Care is your partner in total health and wellness. Whether it’s an acute illness, weekend urgent care visit, or a lifelong primary care provider, we’re here for you and advocate for your physical, mental, and emotional health. If you’re looking for a new primary care provider or are due for an annual wellness visit, schedule your appointment with Avance Care today.