Sun | May 22, 2022

Tips for staying healthy in 2022

Published:Wednesday | December 29, 2021 | 12:06 AMKeisha Hill/Senior Gleaner Writer

A new year is always an opportunity for a fresh start, a new beginning. That is one of the big reasons so many of us set new year 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 is to come.

As we look ahead, there is certainly much to be hopeful for in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 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 practising 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 in 2022 and beyond. Here are a few resolutions to take good care of yourself, as there is no better time to focus on your health than right now.

EATING HEALTHILY

There is a reason why healthy eating is always mentioned as a big contributor to your health. Healthy eating can reduce your risk of illnesses like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It can help boost your energy, sharpen your mind, and improve your mental health. Simple changes can help make a big difference:

• Incorporate more vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy grains into your diet.

• Plan your meals for the week to help ensure healthier eating and less temptation at the grocery store.

• Drink more water in place of soft drinks and other sugary beverages.

• Read the labels before you buy food, to ensure that you are buying things high in good nutrients and low in saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar.

Most importantly, be realistic. Changing your eating habits overnight is difficult, so make your healthy eating an easier and longer-lasting shift by making one or two healthy changes a week. It will add up over time and help you maintain your new, healthy eating habits.

GET 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.

• As little as 30 minutes a day can be effective. If you are not used to regular exercise, or feel like you do not have time in your schedule for it, try simple activities like a lunchtime walk, playing in the backyard with your kids or pets, or a home workout guided by an aerobics or yoga video. The important thing is to get moving.

STAYING ON TOP OF YOUR HEALTH

Taking charge of your health is essential to your overall well-being. Establishing a good, trusting relationship with your doctor and scheduling annual physical examinations can play a big role in helping you to do this. Annual exams can help prevent unwanted health surprises and setbacks, aid in early diagnosis of any conditions to help achieve the best outcomes, and allow you to discuss any health concerns you have, comfortably and confidentially. Your doctor can also ensure that you are on top of key health numbers like your blood pressure and cholesterol, keep you up to date on any needed immunisations, and help you manage any chronic conditions you may have.

REDUCING STRESS

We have all experienced some level of stress at one time or another. It is a natural reaction when things are not going as smoothly as we would like. However, managing stress is important for maintaining physical and mental health. Too much stress can cause depression and increase blood pressure and weight gain, among other dangers to your health.

• Try to identify your ‘stressors’ and learn how to manage your stress. Eating healthily and exercising are a great help; so if you are following the first two tips, you are well on your way.

• Remembering to breathe, being prepared and flexible when events and situations do not go as planned, and treating yourself to a favourite activity are other great ways to help manage stress.

• Do not forget that it is okay to ask for help. Talk to a trusted friend or loved one, or seek out a mental health professional to discuss what you are going through.

Whether you are hitting the reset button on your health or looking to make improvements in a specific area, it is 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 are 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 for a few days, and make an appointment with your doctor 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 add up and help ensure that your health is a long-term success for 2022 and beyond.

keisha.hill@gleanerjm.com