Happy New Year to you all, and I hope your holiday was joyous and relaxing! The New Year is always a time for setting new resolutions, to commit to do things differently, or to start doing something new. Make your health your top resolution this year, after all none of us are getting any younger. Looking after YOU is a big undertaking and is not just about exercise, but also about getting adequate rest, coping with stress, a healthy approach to diet, the removal of excesses, and a good mental attitude.
It is recommended that as we get older, we try to give 30 minutes to exercise each day. Don’t worry, you do not need Lycra and a gym membership! The term “exercise” merely implies increasing our heart beat from resting pace. Exercise can include walking, light housework, gardening or DIY as well as more physical activity. To add a social aspect to your exercise, look into your local sports centre. There are often sessions for Seniors, with reduced rates. Yoga is a great way to relax and do your body good at the same time, as well as meet others. Green Gyms have been around for many years, the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers (BTVC) traces its roots to the 50’s. Not only can you enjoy fresh air, physical activity, and work with others, but also work on conservation projects at the same time.
Let’s not forget that exercise is not only physical, but also mental. Remember the phrase “use it or lose it” – don’t wait until you have lost it! A daily crossword or Sudoku will definitely help, as will an interesting course at your local college, reading the paper (not just watching the news on TV) or joining a book club or special interest club.
Nutrition and Diet
Are you getting your five a day? As well as being full of vitamins and minerals, vegetables and fruit provide us with antioxidants which repair damage to our cells, and decrease the risk of many chronic diseases. To remind yourself of healthy foods to eat, take a look at this shopping list, to get you back on track. Healthy foods include reduced processed and fatty foods, and smartening up your diet may have some very positive side effects!
Give it up!
Still smoking after New Year’s Eve or are you on day 7 of giving up? If you have given up – WELL DONE and keep going! If you are still smoking, try try try to release yourself from the weed. We all know why. Try reading Allen Carr, go to the NHS Smoke free site for advice, try nicotine patches, look into acupuncture or hypnotherapy. Whatever you spend is cheaper than buying cigarettes, let alone the damage to your health.
Coping with Stress
Let’s face it, life is stressful. Whether it is making decisions, conflict with others, trying to get things done, being late, even trying to talk to someone at a utilities company! Many of these things are out of our control, how we manage ourselves in these situations – IS. Although our bodies are designed to function well on a certain amount of stress, excessive and continued exposure to stress can lead to headaches, high blood pressure, chest pain, to name a few. If you feel you are suffering from excessive stress, understanding and addressing its causes will greatly improve your health.
Firstly, try to avoid situations which you know are stressful. Slow down and reduce your deadlines, set realistic goals. Start addressing how it affects you – one symptom at a time (like sleeplessness) and see if you can start changing your perspective, compare your experience with others. Think about your reactions to stressful situations and see if you can change your approach, set yourself priorities, see whether you can take control of things. Finally, learn to relax and take time to de-stress and prioritise what is important in your life.
More Sleep, less alcohol
Sleep, important for giving the body time to repair, enabling brain function, allowing the ability to cope are just a few of the benefits. Chronic lack of sleep increases the risk for developing obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and infections. If you are feeling tired, lethargic, less able to cope, forgetting things – get to bed and enjoy those Christmas pyjamas! Not only will it do you good, but it is free as well!
And as for alcohol – make your resolution to drink less. Your liver will last longer, as will your memory, you will get proper deep sleep at night, will be less likely to snore, and your wallet will appreciate you!
Whatever your resolution – ensure you look after and make the most of yourself!