By Nina Radcliff, MD
Entering into the new year brings excitement, reflection, and hopes that are often embodied by our New Year’s Resolutions. Research shows that more than 25 percent of resolutions are abandoned within 7 days… and within 6 months over 50 percent are given up with more trailing off in the following months. So what about the small percentage that succeed with their resolutions? What helped them reach their resolve? One major reason cited is that it is vital to learn how to balance the new resolutions with our prior commitments.
Resolutions involve new commitments. So along with setting realistic goals — we must sharpen our focus and make adjustments with time (or other commitments) in order to do the important “actions” we have resolved to do. And too, setting goals and making a plan are the key steps towards achieving our vision, our dream. And as it has been wisely said, “A goal without a plan is a wish.”
The resolve to make changes takes time and patience — here are some healthy resolutions that need to be on our “to do” list versus the “let it fall off” or “someday” list. Let’s put this “to do” plan in
motion today, tomorrow and everyday — it will make a world of difference in our good health and well-being.
Food as Fuel
Our bodies are exquisite, finely-tuned machines that will last us a lifetime. In order to support its incredible feats of walking, running, talking, thinking and more, we must provide to it the highest
octane fuel. The foods we eat provide energy along with essential nutrients and vitamins that allow our body to function, grow, and regenerate. Making wise choices about what we put in our mouths —
every day, every meal — is a commitment to keeping our bodies in optimal condition. Let’s make and keep that commitment.
The reasons in favor of maintaining an active lifestyle are powerful: weight control, mood booster, energizer, slayer of diseases, and enemy of insomnia. However, with our long list of things to do, exercising is often pushed down to the bottom of the list and, in some instances, dropped altogether. Let’s aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity, every day, and whenever possible interject movement during the day. Instead of getting on an elevator, take the stairs. While making phone calls, move around. During commercial breaks, stretch or do push-ups. The key is to move it!
Manage Stress Our body’s stress response was designed to help us fight or flee from predators. Today, acute stress, when managed properly, can push us to peak performance during test-taking, presentations, or playing a sport. However, when our body’s stress response becomes chronic, it
can be dangerous to our physical and mental health. Achieving our best overall health requires that we eliminate stress whenever possible and develop coping mechanisms to effectively recover from it. The next time we are feeling “stressed out,” take a deep breath (or several), laugh, listen to music, or engage in physical activity.
Quality sleep, of the right duration, is imperative to health and happiness. It can benefit our memory and stave off dementia, as well as decrease the risk for heart disease, weight gain, diabetes, and
depression. On average, the sleep duration recommendations for elementary school children is 10 hours a day, teens 9 hours a day, adults 8 hours a day, and seniors 7.5 hours a day. The general notion that older adults need less sleep is simply not true.
Having an attitude of gratitude is powerful. This quality, this source, trait and state of mind… is a force that has the immense power to bring hope, heal, recognize simple pleasures, transform, and
bestow bounty to our health and well-being.
Additionally, it has been shown that there are a number of health benefits: better sleep and eating, increased energy and lifespan, and decreased overall illness and depression. Let’s reflect on how we can harness this powerful tool and lift our spirit — and those we love — with daily doses and a year-round gift of appreciation, thankfulness and gratitude.
Giving, Kindness, and Generosity
These acts not only allow us to contribute to the lives of others and find meaning in our own lives, but science shows that it enhances our physical and mental health. Those that do for others have improved heart and mental health and are able to more effectively fight off germs. It can even add years to our lives. Whether it is holding the door open for someone, donating time, money, or belongings, or expressing gratitude to them, our actions have a ripple effect.
This concept or way of living means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Practicing mindfulness helps us let go of
negative thoughts — past wrongs or worry about the future — while connecting to life in the present. And in doing so, we can become more aware of ourselves and our actions. Living in the moment, is living.
So as we begin to ponder resolutions, let’s review this healthy list and my hope is you will place these on your “to do” list. Start today and keep it up — let’s not be one of the 25 percent who gives up the
first week! The choices we make today makes all the difference for the life we will lead tomorrow. Best wishes for a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year… where more of your dreams come to life!
Happy New Year!
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This article is for general information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions and cannot substitute for the advice from your medical professional. Dr. Nina has
used all reasonable care in compiling the current information but it may not apply to you and your symptoms. Always consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions.
By Nina Radcliff, MD