As conventional wisdom goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A new year brings new opportunities to improve your health and to recommit to a healthy lifestyle. Implementing small changes to your daily life and habits can improve your overall health and wellness in the long run and may even prevent common health conditions. Here are 8 easy actions that you can take to help yourself live a happier, healthier life in 2023 and beyond.
Physical activity is essential
Exercise. From improved physical health to better mental health, the benefits of exercise are tangible. Guidelines from the National Institutes of Health recommend that at least 150 minutes of exercise per week for healthy adults – think 30 minutes of physical activity per day – can improve your health over time, including reducing the risk of heart disease and cancers.
Start an anti-inflammatory diet
Some foods may provoke or exacerbate inflammation. Following an anti-inflammatory diet can help prevent or reduce symptoms of inflammation, or potential issues caused by chronic inflammation such as heart damage or high blood pressure. An anti-inflammatory diet may include simple, unprocessed foods (apples, berries, tomatoes, olive oil, green leafy vegetables, nuts, and salmon, to name a few options). You may also need an elimination diet to cut out foods that are triggers.
Catch up on your checkups
Schedule your routine health screenings, especially if you are among the millions of Americans who have missed or delayed screenings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Common screenings include bone density scans for osteoporosis, blood tests to check cholesterol levels, and mammograms or other cancer screenings. Keep in mind if your demographics put you in a higher risk group for any common condition, such as osteoporosis for women age 50 or older; family history is a factor as well. Early detection can lead to better treatment outcomes.
Prevent asthma attacks by improving air quality
If you have asthma, indoor air pollution can become a trigger for asthma attacks. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommends improving your indoor air quality by avoiding smoking, lowering humidity to prevent mold growth, and installing certified asthma and allergy-friendly air filters.
Improve your sleep quality
Maintaining a consistent sleep routine carries health benefits such as alertness, reduced stress, lower risk for diabetes and heart problems, and potentially getting sick less often. Most adults need at least 7 hours of good quality sleep per night. A better sleep routine may also reduce the frequency or intensity of migraine if you experience it. Sleep loss or changes in sleeping patterns can also be a trigger for migraine.
Reduce alcohol and caffeine intake
Cutting back on alcohol and caffeine can improve your overall health and wellbeing. Short-term benefits of reducing alcohol consumption could include reduced blood pressure, better sleep, less headaches, and more energy. Reducing consumption of caffeine can also help improve sleep and reduce anxiety.
Make time for mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can improve your overall health and well-being by reducing stress. Mindfulness breathing exercises can reduce high blood pressure and improve your emotional health and self-awareness to cope with the stresses of day-to-day life. In fact, according to JAMA Psychiatry, a consistent mindfulness and meditation routine may even be as effective as antidepressant medications in combatting anxiety.
Stay connected to family, friends, and community in 2023
Make it a priority to connect with family, friends, and loved ones and strengthen relationships in the new year, no matter how busy life can get. Strong social bonds are necessary for your health and wellbeing. Studies show that people with strong support systems experience less stress, and thus are at a lower risk of heart problems.