7 tips on how to start a positive, healthy new year 2016
You can choose whether 2016 is going to be the year of living healthily and positively, or a remake of the year of living dangerously. It’s in your hands – literally; a very simple action such as washing your hands with soap and water before cooking and eating and after touching possibly-contaminated objects and surfaces can prevent you and your family from becoming sick. A healthy you is a happier, fitter, more productive you who can achieve all of the goals that you set out to accomplish this New Year.
1. Quit/Do not start smoking. Smoking is one of the leading causes of preventable death in the United States, as well as a contributor factor to many severe conditions – including but not limited to COPD, emphysema, and lung cancer. If you do not smoke, the best and easiest way to prevent those and other complications is to remain smoke-free. It is arguable whether tobacco/nicotine is a gateway drug, but even by itself is already pretty bad. On the other hand, if you are a smoke looking to quit, nicotine gum, patches and other smoke-cessation aids may be of help. Some smokers find it helpful as well to switch to electronic cigarettes. However, the jury is still out on the potential benefits and risks of e-cigs. Ask your doctor to help you come up with a plan to quit (setting a date to quit, establishing realistic goals, etc).
2. Drink alcohol moderately. As with e-cigarettes, much has been said of the benefits of drinking in moderation – especially red wine. Nevertheless, that is not an established scientific truth – for starters, alcohol does not affect everyone the same way. For example, women are recommended to drink less than men, and that is by no means a sexist thing. But in general alcohol is a depressant, and while that doesn’t mean that it necessarily causes depression (that would actually be a depressogenic), it does mean that abusing it can lead to much grief. Imbibing more than you can handle may impair your ability to react and make sound decisions. In turn, that can result in such disparate – but equally regrettable – outcomes as driving your car into a tree or engaging in unprotected sexual relations. Not to say that binge-drinking can cause alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning may include symptoms like violent vomiting, extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing, dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, and death – also known as doing a Bon Scott. Finally, alcohol is a risk factor for many conditions, including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, cancer, and more.
3. Don’t abuse drugs. This one is pretty much a no brainer (this is your brain on drugs and so forth). But you’re probably thinking we’re talking about illegal substances, when prescription narcotics can be just as dangerous and addictive. In you’re dealing with a medical condition that requires pain management, ask your doctor about an alternative to opioid painkillers. Depending on the circumstances, you may benefit from drug-free approaches like TENS unit supplies (available at Discount Medical Supplies, he said knowingly).
4. Eat healthily. Make sure your diet includes fresh, frozen, or canned fruits and vegetables, as well as foods that are rich in calcium, and whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products. Avoid too much sodium, saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and added sugars. Consider low-calorie versions of your favorite foods but also ensure that you remain within your daily calorie needs.
5. Be physically active. Whether you make a conscious effort to go to a gym (or set up your own home gym) or find ways to exercise whenever or wherever possible (taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walk or bike to work or school), being physically active is not only essential to keep a healthy weight – among many other benefits – but it is also a key to your mental wellbeing. “Mens sana in corpore sano,” as the Roman poet Juvenal wrote. As true in 2016 as it was in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries AD.
6. Foster your mental health. Speaking of a sound mind in a sound body, remember not to neglect your psychological and emotional health. Practice a hobby, read a book, listen to music, socialize, learn a new language, etc.
7. Miscellaneous. See your doctor regularly, get your flu vaccine this and every year, get health insurance coverage, wear seatbelts, wear condoms, apply sunscreen and/or insect repellent as the situation requires, and get plenty of sleep at night.