Here are 21 tips for a healthy 2021 and beyond:
Practice Proper Hand Hygiene: Whether it’s singing Happy Birthday twice or belting the chorus of Truth Hurts by Lizzo, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water to remove viruses, bacteria and other harmful substances stuck to your hands.
Follow a Healthy Diet: Food fuels not only the body, but also your mind. Eating a well-balanced diet of vegetables, berries, nuts, healthy fats and oils, whole grains, fish, beans and poultry can decrease risk of stroke, heart disease, cognitive decline and dementia.
Take it a step further: Try out the Mediterranean Diet – a plant-based style of eating that promotes overall health, supports healthy cholesterol levels and has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Make Time for Physical Exercise: As little as 10 minutes of aerobic (or cardio) exercise a day, such as walking or cycling, can reduce stress and cognitive decline and improve your sleep, heart health and overall quality of life. Try scheduling your workouts, recruiting a buddy or taking group classes to stay motivated.
Prioritize Your Mental Health: Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Mental wellness is an important ingredient when thinking about decreasing the risk of cognitive decline. It is so important to seek medical treatment if you have symptoms of depression, anxiety or other mental health concerns. Managing stress in your life can also have a positive impact on cognitive health.
If You Haven’t Already, Quit Smoking: Smoking increases risk of lung and throat cancer, kidney and heart disease and cognitive decline. This one lifestyle change can make a world of difference for your health.
Catch Some Zzz: Sleep is very important for the body and brain to repair and recover from the day. Not getting enough sleep due to conditions such as insomnia or sleep apnea may result in problems in memory and thinking. If you suffer from insomnia, try to create a comfortable sleep environment and bedtime routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, avoid using your phone or watching TV in bed, and refrain from drinking alcohol or caffeine before bedtime.
Take Control of Your Blood Pressure: High salt or sodium intake is associated with increased blood pressure and increased risk of stroke and heart attack. High blood pressure is known as the “silent killer,” as most people aren’t aware they have it. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium intake to 1500mg a day, especially for people with high blood pressure. Relaxation practices such as meditation and reading are also useful in lowering your blood pressure.
Stay Sharp: Hit the books in some sort of structured education practice. Taking a class online can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
Prevent Falls in Your Home: Falls are a serious problem, but preventing one from happening is within your power. Remove objects that you can trip over – including area rugs, cords and toys – and don’t walk in stockings or soft, slick slippers around the house.
Try Something New: Challenging your mind and trying something new can help build new neuropathways in the brain which can be a protective factor against cognitive decline.
Think with Your Heart in Mind: Whatever is good for your heart is good for your brain (and body!). Risk factors for cardiovascular disease and stroke, such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes, can all negatively impact both your physical and cognitive health.
Donate Blood: One blood donation could save up to three lives. Schedule an appointment and, if you’re eligible, set a quarterly donation goal. Giving to others feels great, but donating blood has health benefits too. It helps reduce the risk of cancer, damage to the liver and pancreas and improves cardiovascular health.
Remember, Safety First: Always wear a seatbelt and helmet, never engage in distracted or impaired driving and know when you should go to the emergency room versus urgent care.
Make Sunscreen a Part of Your Daily Routine: Excessive sun exposure can age skin, and even more dangerously, increase the rate of skin cancer. Wearing sunscreen and limiting time spent in the sun can slow down the aging process moving forward.
Keep Your Bones Strong: Nutrition plays an important role in keeping bones healthy. Follow a balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables, Calcium and Vitamin D.
Work Towards Work-Life Balance: If your daily commitments lead to symptoms of stress and even burnout, it could be a sign your life is out of balance. Take a step back and look how you spend your time and energy. Remember that work-life balance is a moving target and it needs to be re-evaluated from time to time to meet the changes in goals and responsibilities.
Focus on Your Health All Year Round: See your primary healthcare provider for regular screenings, including blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes screenings.
Get a Mammogram: One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. The American Cancer Society recommends that women ages 40 and older have a screening mammogram every year.
Be a Life Saver: If you witness a cardiac arrest or find someone unresponsive, call 911 and be ready to administer bystander CPR. Sign up for an adult or infant/child CPR class this year and be a life saver.
Manage Your Stress and Anxiety, You Can Do It: Life without stress or anxiety is unrealistic, but you can manage it. Take time for yourself and remember to give yourself a break when overwhelmed. Engage your support system by talking to affirming friends and family members or a mental health professional.
Stay Connected: Staying socially engaged may support brain health. Finding ways to connect with others virtually, via FaceTime or Zoom, can affect your mental and physical well-being.
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