2020 is finally coming to an end and soon a new year is just around the corner. What better time to reset your health and wellness goals? With the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, health and self-sufficiency are more important now than ever.
When it comes to making resolutions, it is important to focus on your physical and mental health.
Women’s health expert Dr. Lisa Larkin, Founder of Ms. Medicine and a member of HealthyWomen’s Women’s Health Advisory Council, and Dr. Ankita Sagar, an internist in New York, suggests some resolutions that can help you achieve a healthier 2021.
1. Allow time to focus on your health
Many women are guilty of neglecting their health needs in order to focus on caring for others. Learning to prioritize your own health can help you stick to resolutions. One way to ensure this is to allow time for it.
“What I am telling people is that you need to be realistic about how much time you can plan in each and every day,” Sagar said, adding that figuring out your leisure bags can help you plan.
“Calendars and reminders are really good, whether it’s on a phone, a physical calendar, or a journal where you write your daily schedule [in]. ”
Planning everything from a daily meditation break to an annual mammogram can help ensure that your health comes first.
2. Find a partner or join a community that can support your health goals
If choosing a healthier lifestyle on your own has been difficult, consider bringing in a responsibility partner or joining a health-focused community.
Larkin suggests asking a family member, friend, or spouse to join you and keep you updated.
“If you focus on lifestyle things, I firmly believe in finding online networks for different things … [such as] Sleep hygiene and weight loss, “Larkin said.
This can be challenging during the pandemic, but you can set up virtual check-ins or take a socially distant stroll with a friend. The most important thing is to reach out to others who share your health goals.
3. Find the mental health methods that are right for you
Mental health is important. Learning to prioritize and maintain your emotional wellbeing is critical to your healthiest life.
“Anxiety, depression and insomnia are on the rise during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sagar said. “It is important to bring this to your doctor because [they’re] won’t necessarily be able to see it. ”
Larkin recommends a variety of mental health methods.
“I refer a lot of people for advice, but not everyone needs traditional counseling. Many people use religious pastors or priests, family or friends. For some people, exercise is really the best, or even just meditation and guided imagery – or even getting a massage,” she said.
4. Pull out the power plug for at least 30 minutes a day
“Take 30 minutes a day not to watch a laptop, phone, or electronic device, including a TV movie,” advised Sagar. She added that unplugging the power cord gives our minds time to rest, which can be especially important before bed.
She suggested using this time to read a book, write in a journal, draw, or meditate. If you can’t find an uninterrupted 30-minute break, split it up. Instead, take three 10-minute breaks during your day.
5. Find out more about your breast density
When it comes to breast cancer risk, many women lack education on important issues such as breast density. Breast density refers to the ratio of fibrous and glandular tissue to adipose tissue in the breast.
Larkin explained that breast density affects breast cancer risk. Therefore, people with breasts should know their breast density and talk to their doctor about it.
The next time you get a mammogram, ask your doctor about your breast density and other cancer risks.
6. Review your family history
While a large part of health is based on lifestyle and diet, genetics also play an important role in our risk factors for certain diseases, including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and psychiatric disorders.
“Take a good inventory of your family history and make sure your doctor is aware of your family history as it is so often overlooked in traditional practice,” advised Larkin.
7. Eat more fruits and vegetables
Only one in ten Americans eats the recommended one to two cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables a day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you’re having trouble getting the daily amount into your diet, Larkin recommends taking one day a week to cut and prepare fruits and vegetables so that you have easily accessible servings during the week.
Making the decision to eat more fruits and vegetables is vital as they not only help with weight management but also fight off certain chronic conditions.
“Lifestyle is important for reducing the risk of breast cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Exercise, maintaining an ideal body weight (BMI below 25), a healthy, largely plant-based diet and limiting alcohol consumption are of crucial importance to ideal living habits for the prevention of diseases” said Larkin.
8. Reduce the alcohol content
A nightcap can be a relaxing ritual, but too much alcohol can cause health problems like heart disease.
“Alcohol consumption has surely increased worldwide as COVID-19 is having a catastrophic impact on society. Data shows that alcohol also affects mood and anxiety, particularly increases the risk of depression, suicide and anxiety disorders. Patients suffering from loneliness and depressed mood suffering and anxiety may be less likely to seek medical help, “Sagar said. She suggests that you start reducing by replacing one glass a day with a soft drink.
“Alcohol use is associated with a social activity … so plan ahead. If you drink with food … plan on another beverage, be it water, bottled water, or flavored water, that you enjoy,” she adds.
If you’d like more assistance in reducing your alcohol consumption, Sagar recommends finding a professional such as a health coach to help you take a more personalized approach.
We can’t predict much about the New Year. However, we know these resolutions can pave the way as you aim for a healthier 2021.