It’s that time of year again when we resolve to do things differently in the year ahead. Our New Year’s Resolutions are always well-intentioned, but our ability to stick to them doesn’t always quite match up.
But, this year, how about making just one resolution – to take better care of your health? It’s a bit of a cliché but it’s absolutely true that without our health, we have nothing. How many of us, though, fully appreciate our health until something happens to undermine it?
Here are some simple things you can do to improve your health and wellbeing this year.
Drink plenty of water
Our bodies are around 60% water and need to be well hydrated to function properly. We lose water through breathing, sweating and digestion so it’s important to keep well topped up throughout the day.
Health guidelines recommend drinking between one and two litres of water a day, or more in hot climates or if we are engaged in physical activity.
If our bodies become dehydrated, we are more prone to headaches, tiredness, and dry lips and mouth.
Being dehydrated can slow down your metabolism, which is not good news if you’re trying to shed a few of those extra Christmas pounds.
Conversely, drinking water before a meal can make you feel satisfied faster, meaning you eat fewer calories.
Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep is detrimental to our mental and physical health. It has been linked to blood sugar imbalances, higher stress levels, obesity, immunity problems and mental health problems. The average adult needs around seven to nine hours’ sleep a night.
Most people experience sleep problems from time to time. The National Sleep Foundation in the US suggest the following to help you get a good night’s sleep:
- Stick to a sleep schedule of going to bed and getting up at the same time each day, even at weekends.
- Devise your own relaxing bedtime ritual.
- If you are having trouble getting to sleep at night cut out any daytime power naps.
- Take some daily exercise.
- Create a calm, quiet environment to sleep in. Ideally your bedroom should not be too hot – between 60 and 70 degrees is ideal.
- Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows.
Exercise is beneficial, both for our physical and our mental health. It’s important to find something you enjoy doing as you’re far more likely to do it regularly if that’s the case.
It can be as simple as going out for a walk or going to a local exercise class. You don’t have to spend a fortune on gym memberships but you do have to commit to finding the time to do it. You’ll feel a whole load better for it.
Aside from feeling better for some fresh air, our bodies need Vitamin D which is primarily derived from sunshine on our bare skin. At this time of year especially it can be hard to get enough Vitamin D so getting outside as often as we can is important.
Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, as well as combatting inflammation in the body and promoting recovery from surgery.
Recent studies also suggest that Vitamin D helps our bodies fight off respiratory infections as well as a number of more serious conditions including: cancer, asthma, type-II diabetes, Alzheimer’s, depression, high blood pressure and autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis and Crohns Disease.
As the pace of life has accelerated, it can sometimes feel impossible to find any time to relax. But building in some relaxation time to our busy routine can have multiple health benefits.
Calming the mind and finding some downtime can: improve immune function; lower stress levels; reduce physical pain; improve sleep and much more. You may want to try meditation, yoga, walking or getting out into nature as a way of relaxing. It doesn’t really matter what you do as long as you enjoy doing it, it helps you to relax and you do it regularly.
If you need help, there is plenty of support, advice and encouragement out there to help you get started and to keep going. Happy, healthy New Year!