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4 resolutions for a healthier 2023

Happy 2023! If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve either made or you’re mulling over your New Year’s resolutions. It’s likely that healthy habits top the list.

Just remember, you don’t need a fad diet, trendy workout equipment or a pricey gym membership to make positive changes in your health. In fact, overcommitting to hard-to-keep goals can set you up for disappointment. 

Jillian McCartney, MultiCare Indigo Health Primary Care physician, zeroes in on four important resolutions you can make this year to improve your physical and mental health.

 

Get enough (good) sleep.

“There’s some truth to the adage “sleep heals all,’” McCartney said. “It’s a huge part of your overall health. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can take a toll on your body and brain.”

Getting adequate, restful sleep helps:

  • Relieve stress and improve your mood.
  • Lower your risk for serious health problems, like diabetes and heart disease.
  • Improve concentration at work and school.
  • Boost your immune system.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

In general, adults need a solid seven hours of sleep each night. The National Sleep Foundation offers more specific guidance on how much sleep you should get based on your age.

If you’re having trouble getting enough shut-eye, these sleep habits might help:  

  • Stick to a consistent schedule. A regular sleep and wake schedule (weekdays and weekends) helps keep your body’s natural rhythms in check.

  • Create an awesome sleep environment. Consider blackout curtains or a sleep mask to block out light. To help ease you into slumber, indulge in some pre-bedtime rituals like a warm bath, herbal tea or meditation.

  • Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol at least 4 hours before going to bed. Big meals close to bedtime can also disrupt sleep.

  • Exercise daily. Being physically active during the day can help you fall asleep more easily at night.

  • Ditch the devices. Blue light can disturb the body’s natural wake-sleep cycle. Shut down your electronics at least 30 minutes before bed time.

Learn more about how sleep affects your health.

 

Up your work-life balance game.

Data shows that around 66 percent of U.S. workers lack a work-life balance. On top of that, 88 percent of workers feel stressed out on the job. When work crosses over from something that brings you joy to something that causes great anxiety and strain, you may need a work-life reset.

“A good work-life balance means you have harmony between the different aspects of your life,” McCartney said. “That balance is not only good for your health and healthy relationships, but it can also improve your productivity and lead to greater job satisfaction.”

McCartney offers these tips for finding a better balance:

  • Establish work-time limits. Set a reasonable end to your work day and stick to it. (That goes for working remotely from home.) Allow enough time at the end of your work day for a nutritious meal along with quality you-time or time with loved ones.

  • Make self-care a priority. Along with taking care of basic needs like eating and drinking enough water, make time for exercise, social activities, meditation or a good book. Self-care isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity.

  • Practice time management. Keep track of how you spend your time each day. (Yes, there’s an app for that!) Adjust regularly until you find the most efficient strategy.

  • Disconnect when you’re at home or off the clock. Just because your devices don’t take time off doesn’t mean you need to be available 24/7. Answering work calls or constantly checking texts and email is a sure-fire way to pump up your stress levels, mess with your sleep, and keep you from connecting with the nonwork people in your life.

 

Quit smoking

Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States. Giving it up is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health – no matter your age or how long you’ve been smoking.

Quitting smoking can:

  • Extend your life. Tobacco use puts you at risk for premature disability and death. When you quit, you can add as much as a decade to your life expectancy.

  • Improve your health. Smoking is linked to several serious health conditions, including coronary heart disease and a dozen types of cancer. More than 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking. Smokers are also more likely to develop a severe case of COVID-19.

  • Protect loved ones. Each year in the U.S., second-hand smoke is responsible for more than 41,000 deaths.

  • Save money. Smokers in the U.S. spend an average of $2,000 on cigarettes each year. Smoking also places an enormous financial burden on health care systems and society. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking-related illnesses and health conditions result in more than $240 billion in health care spending and nearly $185 billion in lost productivity.

  • Ensure a healthier pregnancy and baby. Women who smoke are at increased risk for a wide range a problems during pregnancy, including miscarriage and premature labor. Smoking during pregnancy can also cause tissue damage in an unborn baby, particularly in the lungs and brain.

  • Improve social connections. Tobacco use can negatively affect social interactions and relationships. Smoking restrictions also limit where you can go.

It isn’t easy to kick the habit, but the right support can help you make your tobacco-free resolution stick. A primary care provider can offer the medication, tools and resources you need.

 

Take up a new hobby

New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be about sweeping changes. Simply trying something new is a great way to improve your mental and physical well-being.

“Starting a new activity or interest for pleasure can enrich your life and spark joy,” McCartney said. “Research shows that people with hobbies are less likely to suffer from stress and depression.”

Just make sure you opt for something you’ll stick with and enjoy doing. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cooking with your partner, family or friends. Whether you resolve to learn to cook from scratch or pump up your kitchen repertoire, cooking together has all the ingredients for a satisfying hobby. It not only helps establish healthy eating habits, but it also provides the opportunity for quality together-time. For added fun, research new meal ideas together.
  • Gardening. What better way to cultivate a new hobby than to get your hands dirty in the great outdoors? Gardening is not only good exercise, but it can also lower stress levels and boost mood. And if you reap what you sow, you’ll have the added benefit of eating healthier.  

  • Reading. Reading has been shown to increase mental stimulation, reduce stress, boost concentration and improve memory. Join or form a book group for the added perk of social connections.

  • Exercise. If you exercise regularly, add something you’ve never done before to your routine, like kickboxing, yoga or cardio dance. If you’re looking to start an exercise program, you don’t have to commit to an intense workout. Walking 30 minutes a day offers big benefits for your heart and brain health. Pair your treks with music or a podcast.

 

Indigo is your partner in health

Need help getting your 2023 healthy habits off the ground or back on track? We got you.

Even if you already have a primary care provider, Indigo offers the care you need, when you need it. Indigo Primary Care is available at select locations, or you can connect face-to-face with a provider from the comfort of home or wherever you are. Simply book a same-day appointment with Indigo Online Care from your favorite device.

Either way, we’re here every day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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