A new year is always an opportunity for a fresh start. A new beginning. That’s one of the big reasons so many of us set New Year’s resolutions. Turning the page on the calendar gives us a chance to turn the page on unhealthy habits, resolve to be better, healthier versions of ourselves and look to the future with hope for what’s to come.
As we look ahead, there is certainly much to be hopeful for in the light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As more effective treatments have been instituted and with exceptionally effective vaccines on the way, we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Even so, it is still essential to our health and the health of others that we continue to do all we physically can to stop the spread of this disease — by continuing to wear our masks, maintaining social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene — until the pandemic is safely at an end.
In addition to these essential precautions, there are a few key things that can help you get and stay healthy for 2021 and beyond. So, if you’re looking to make a couple resolutions to take better care of yourself, these are a great place to start. After all, there’s no better time to focus on your health than right now.
Eating Healthy: There’s a reason why healthy eating is always mentioned as a big contributor to your health. Because it’s true. Healthy eating can reduce your risk of illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Getting Moving: Physical activity is one of the best tools to improve or maintain good physical and mental health. Regular exercise can help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, help reduce your risk for heart disease, strengthen your bones and muscles and help you reduce stress and anxiety.
Staying on Top of Your Health: Taking charge of your own health is essential to your overall well-being. Establishing a good, trusting relationship with a primary care provider and scheduling annual physical exams can play a big role in helping you to do this.
Reducing Stress: We’ve all experienced some level of stress at one time or another. It’s a natural reaction when things aren’t going as smoothly as we’d like. However, managing stress is important to maintaining physical and mental health. Too much stress can cause depression and increase blood pressure and weight gain, among other dangers to your health.
Whether you’re hitting the reset button on your health or looking to make improvements in a specific area, it’s important to remember that your health journey is a marathon, not a sprint. Making a lot of changes overnight is an overwhelming task. Be realistic about where you’re at and what you can maintain. For example, this week consider starting one or two new healthy eating habits, get moving with some physical activity a few days and make an appointment with your primary care provider for your annual check-up. Then, as you progress, you can incorporate more healthy habits into your daily schedule. Just like with healthy eating, small changes can really add up and help ensure that your health is a long-term success for 2021 and beyond.
And don’t forget to wear your mask.
DR. RAYMOND WECHMAN, MD is with the Georgetown Community Hospital.