Lacking control over your health can have many negative effects on your daily life. Nearly two years into COVID-19, it’s no wonder many of us are feeling depressed, anxious, and generally out of sorts. Putting yourself and your health first is one way to start feeling better both physically and mentally.
However, we all know that the new year often brings on complicated and unrealistic goals. While making resolutions can be beneficial, making impractical ones will only set you further back. In this article, we’ll discuss four practical ways to take control of your health and reduce stress.
1. Ease Any Health-Related Anxieties
We’ve all had our fair share of health scares, but you can control these worries with proper testing. Best of all, there are at-home tests available for a wide variety of health problems. If you are concerned that you have an STI, you may consider an at-home STI test. STIs are super common, and there is no reason to be embarrassed about telling your physician that you may need treatment.
Other health-related anxieties may stem from genetics, such as a family history of cancer. You may want to have any suspicious sun spots or moles examined by a dermatologist to rule out skin cancer. It may be intimidating to put yourself through any testing, so enlist a partner to help with the process.
Being proactive about your health can lessen any “what-ifs” and ease unnecessary worries. If you are diagnosed with something, finding out early is key for management or treatment. You’ll rest easier knowing that you’re in good hands and doing all you can for your medical needs.
2. Add Movement Into Your Routine
Over 95% of New Year’s resolutions are fitness-related, and yet the majority of people give up by February. Instead of starting an intense new workout schedule in January, focus on movement in general. No matter your age, moving your joints and muscles everyday is a sure way to take control of your health. People who exercise will lower their chances of getting sick and are less prone to some long-term conditions or diseases.
Movement can take a lot of forms. The key is setting yourself up with a routine so it becomes second nature. For instance, if calling a friend or family member is part of your Sunday, talk while walking around your neighborhood. If you start your morning with a cup of coffee, do some quick stretching while waiting for it to brew. If you live in an apartment complex, start taking the stairs instead of the elevator when you come home.
Another way to add movement to your routine is to make it a priority for family or friend outings. Instead of suggesting a movie day on a nice weekend, stream a family yoga session or go for a walk. Moving doesn’t need to be complicated, but it should be part of your everyday routine.
3. Add Nutrients to Your Meals
The word “diet” has a lot of negative connotations, such as restricting, limiting, and even avoiding. That said, a standard diet may make sense for some people and certain circumstances. If you’re looking to commit to your dietary health without setbacks, think about adding nutrients instead of cutting calories. The mental habit of adding (instead of subtracting) can help you achieve a more healthful and realistic food mindset.
Adding nutrients might involve sneaking a handful of spinach into your morning smoothie or pasta dinner. It could also mean adding some good sources of fiber such as chia or flax seed into oatmeal or yogurt. Eating fresh fruit for an afternoon snack is a great way to add extra vitamin C to your diet.
The more you start adding healthy nutrients, the easier it will become. You may start to notice that you’re filling up on these foods and less inclined to reach for processed options. Nevertheless, know that you’re likely to fall off the routine at some point or another. That’s part of being human! Get back on schedule when you can, and your body will thank you.
While sleeping isn’t an inherently exciting activity, you can’t beat waking up and feeling refreshed. Sleep is not only beneficial but absolutely necessary for your health. During the night, your body restores itself, which further protects your immune system and recharges you for the day ahead.
It’s recommended to clock seven to nine hours of sleep each night. If you have a certain time to wake up in the morning, this may mean going to bed earlier. If you have a newborn that wakes up at the crack of dawn, you may consider sleeping when they sleep.
In order to prioritize your sleep, think about what your ideal bedtime routine would be. In general, it’s best to avoid devices (including phones and television) for an hour before you hit the sack. Avoiding nighttime snacking can also ensure a more restful sleep, as your body will have had time to fully digest. Reading a book or magazine before bed can also help you wind down, as can a short and simple meditation.
If you try to go from couch potato to Boston Marathon runner in a couple of months, your 2022 fitness resolutions are likely to fail. Taking these practical, incremental steps, however, will help you to a healthier body in the new year and beyond.