Resolve to be healthy and well in 2022

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 12, 2022

After nearly two years of concentrating on illness, it’s time to focus on staying well.

Start the new year by scheduling an annual wellness visit. Go ahead and make preventive care appointments, including dental and vision, for everyone in your family. Health experts warn that COVID-19 is likely to be with us for years. The Louisiana Department of Health recommends booster shots for anyone ages 18 and older who’s fully vaccinated. Also include these preventive measures as part of daily routines to help protect ourselves, family and friends: mask when indoors and in large crowds, socially distance when possible and wash your hands often. Also, consider these five everyday habits to be healthier and stay well in 2022.

 

Eat healthier.

Our mothers were right—eat more vegetables. Include additional salads and vegetables and less red meat, sugar and processed foods in daily diets. A high plant-based diet benefits weight loss and decreases risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and diabetes. Shake up the routine and try one new healthy recipe a week. Also, remember that a balanced diet includes drinking more water.

 

Move more.

Whether it’s joining a gym, practicing yoga, gardening or riding a bike, we need to move more. One of the best ways is by walking. Whether it’s 1,000 or 10,000 steps, get up and walk. Take the stairs when possible and choose parking spots farther away instead of driving around in circles looking for one closest to the door.

 

Go to sleep.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends an average of seven to eight hours of sleep each night for adults. Consider getting extra rest by waking up earlier. Think of the earlier alarm as more time for exercise or quiet meditation and reflection before starting the day.

According to Sleep Advisor, waking up earlier also allows more time for a healthy breakfast, helps us acclimate to the day and be more focused, and improves quality of rest and helps us stick to a regular sleep schedule.

 

Relieve stress.

Mental health and wellbeing impacts our physical health. In this new year, make a TLC plan for the mind as well as the body. Set aside time to meditate; try an app to jumpstart the practice. Put on calming music and settle in with a good book. If reading before bedtime, avoid scrolling as blue light in electronic devices can interrupt sleep.

Research from the National Institute of Health shows that animals can help reduce depression and lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. However, look at all the pros and cons of pet ownership.

The Great Resignation of 2021 was prompted primarily by the Great Burnout many of us experienced during the pandemic. Sometimes we can overcome being overwhelmed and anxious with time out—a vacation, spa day or good night’s sleep. At other times, it may be something more.

Look for key symptoms of burnout, including:

  • lack of motivation
  • lack of resilience and unable to get back on course
  • negative interactions with coworkers
  • inability to make decisions.

Consider therapy if experiencing long-term burnout on the job or lingering anxiety and depression.

 

Stop smoking.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking continues to be the leading cause of death in this country. In Louisiana, more than 7,000 adults die annually due to smoking-related illness. Smoking increases risks for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension. It also negatively impacts immune systems and bones, while increasing the risk of breaks, osteoporosis and even eye diseases.

If you smoke, consider enrolling in Quit Smoking for Life cessation program. Call 985-449-4686 for more information.

In resolving to be healthier in 2022, start with just a few good habits. Don’t try to adopt too many at once. Slow but steady wins the health race.

 

Katie Richard, MA, BSN, RN, is the education & training coordinator for the Thibodaux Regional Wellness Education Center. For more information on health and wellness services, call 985-493-4765.