It’s that time of year again! Time for decorating cookies, counting our blessings, and starting to plan for the year ahead. This year get an early start on those New Year’s resolutions by giving yourself the gift of health. These simple tips will help you and your entire family feel great all throughout the year.
A Balanced Diet
Don’t worry, you won’t have to avoid all those holiday treats. The key to a healthy, nutritious diet is balance, both in variety and quantity. Make sure to eat vegetables, fruit, whole grains, low-fat or fat-free dairy, and proteins. A diverse diet means your body gains important nutrients, all while you get to enjoy trying new foods. For example, eating vegetables every day is great, but switching between leafy greens, colorful peppers and carrots, and legumes like beans and peas is even better. But what about dessert? As long as foods with higher sugar and fat counts are enjoyed in moderation, they can remain on the shopping list.
A Daily Dose of Exercise
It might be a bit cooler outside, but there’s still plenty of ways to get the doctor-recommended amount of exercise every week. Physical activity provides so many health benefits, including lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer. Even just taking a brisk, 20-minute walk every day will get your heart rate up while giving you fun out in the fresh air. Also, joining a recreational sports league, biking, exercising along with a video, or going to the gym provides great sources of exercise. Try this: after the big holiday meal, take a stroll outside to help yourself digest, lower your blood pressure, and make room for leftovers.
A More Relaxed Mind
Just as important as a healthy body, giving your mind a chance to rest will have a profound impact on your overall well-being. Stress is bad not only for your mood, but also your immune system.
If working, cooking and cleaning, or holiday shopping starts to feel overwhelming, try some of these strategies to cope:
- Take a break! Stepping away from the source of stress for even 20 minutes has been shown to lower anxiety.
- Start sweating! A short walk, run, bike-ride or swim session benefits your body and your mind.
- Smile! Research has shown that changing our facial expressions can actually improve overall mood and outlook.
- Breathe. If you start to feel tense, take a moment to breathe deeply and collect yourself.
A Better (and Longer) Night’s Sleep
It’s no secret that a good night’s sleep does wonders for your health. In fact, the CDC recommends that adults between the ages of 18 and 60 get at least seven hours of sleep per night, while children and teens should aim for eight or more. Getting enough shut-eye may sound wonderful, but it’s not always so easy. An estimated one third of adults in the United States report not getting enough sleep on a regular basis. A lack of sleep has been linked to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other serious conditions.
Luckily, AltaMed has a couple of tips for gifting yourself a better night’s sleep:
- Wake up and go to bed at the same times every day.
- Put your phone or computer away at least a half hour before you plan to sleep.
- Avoid drinking alcohol or eating a large meal late at night.
- Ensure your bedroom is dark and at a comfortable temperature.
- If possible, exercise during the day.