Great Health Resolutions
Ring in the new year with these easy resolutions for healthy living
If 2020 had a message for us all, it was never take your health for granted. As we tiptoe into 2021, the fear of the unseen Covid-19 virus continues to linger in the air making us all the more aware of how important it is to take care of ourselves. With this in mind, let’s take a look at four essentials for healthy living – eating, sleeping, exercising, and thinking right – for a happy, healthy new year.
1. Get enough quality sleep
Many of us skimp on sleep – we watch television or use the computer well into the night, sleep late, or try to get by on five hours of sleep. We sleep fewer hours on weekdays and try to make up for it on weekends. But think about it: Sleep is essential, it’s the time the body winds down, rests, and rejuvenates. When sleep patterns are disrupted, the body weakens and becomes susceptible to illnesses.
How much sleep is enough sleep? The answer depends on your age. Sleep experts recommend the following as a general guideline for age group, with variations according to individual circumstances:
· Infants (0-3 months) need 14-17 hours
· Infants (4-11 months) need 12-15 hours
· Toddlers (1-2 years) need 11-14 hours
· Preschool (3-5 years) 10-13 hours
· School age (6-13 years) 9-11 hours
· Teens (14-17 years) 8-10 hours
· Young adults (18-25 years) 7-9 hours
· Adults (26-64 years) 7-9 hours
· Older adults (65 and above) 7-8 hours
The key to falling asleep effortlessly is to establish a nightly routine that sends your body important cues that it is time to wind down. Set aside 15-30 minutes before bedtime for a ritual that can be practiced daily:
· Make sure your mattress and pillows are fresh, clean, and inviting.
· Indulge in a calming activity before bedtime, for example, reading a book or listening to soothing music, sipping a warm drink of hot chocolate or herbal tea.
· Avoid stimulants like tea, coffee, and liqour a few hours before bedtime.
· Switch off the computer and mobile phone at least half an hour before bedtime because the blue light emitted by these devices keeps you awake.
Make 2021 the year you give your body the sleep it needs in order to function effectively.
2. Eat nourishing food
A healthy diet is essential for well-being. It is balanced, nutritious, and taken in the right quantity to maintain your ideal body weight.
A wholesome meal would include something from all of the following food groups:
· Vegetables and legumes, including leafy greens, which are packed with vitamins, minerals, and dietary fibre. Choose different colours – leafy greens, oranges like pumpkin and carrot, reds like beetroot, and whites like cucumber. These should take up half of your plate at a meal;
· Starchy foods like unpolished rice and wholegrain bread or roti taking up a quarter of your plate at a meal, and
· Proteins such as lean meat, fish, eggs or pulses like peas, beans or lentils, nuts and seeds taking up the remainder of your plate. Try to have a portion of oily fish a week because it is rich with omega-3 fatty acids.
· Fruit is also rich in dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Always try to have fresh fruit instead of juices, which take out the fibre, and dry fruit which is full of sugar,
· Dairy or dairy alternatives such as soya
· Only small amounts of unsaturated oils or spreads, and
· Fluids, mainly water.
Reduce or avoid foods that fall into the ‘discretionary’ group that are high in fats, salt and sugar, such as biscuits, cakes, ice cream, potato crisps, fried foods, lollies and chocolates, fast foods, cordials, sports, fruit and energy drinks, and alcohol. While these foods may provide energy, they tend to be nutrient-poor. Also, avoid processed foods, and always choose healthy alternatives – for example, have a fruit or nuts at tea-time instead of cake, and have low-fat yogurt for dessert instead of wattalapan. Take small servings of rich or sweet foods. If you must snack, nibble on healthy foods. Comfort foods like crisps and cookies are often plentiful in homes these days, it is best to opt for healthy alternatives.
You are what you eat, so make sure you eat right in 2021.
3. Workout to stay fit
The year 2020 opened up the world of remote work and study. Remote working can be a trap for a sedentary lifestyle, which will eventually take a toll on your health. Make an effort to exercise - schedule walking breaks into your work or study routine by, for example, walking around the room or house when on a call. Make sure your seat is ergonomic and that your workstation is well lit. If your seat is adjustable, adjust its height from time to time to give your muscles a break.
Schedule an exercise routine into your day. Although the pandemic has disrupted group fitness, it has opened up dozens of online fitness vlogs, free at the touch of a button. The offerings range from live yoga and pranayama, to stretching, zumba dancing, and strength training. Check them out on YouTube and go with one that you like.
If you find it difficult to exercise in a house full of children and people working from home, make time for a brisk walk in the neighbourhood. Walking improves heart health, boosts the immune system, protects the joints and lowers blood sugar in addition to toning your muscles and making you feel good overall. A brisk walk of about half an hour or an hour a day would do wonders for your health. According to research, the magic number of steps that will keep you fit and healthy is 8,000 -10,000 a day. That’s easy enough to achieve because half an hour of brisk walking will log up about 3,000 to 4,000 steps.
4. Keep a happy mind
As the pandemic continues to generate uncertainty about the future, it’s easy to get anxious and depressed. While you have limited control of external factors, you can control your own mind and help those around you to feel better too.
If you tend to worry a lot, put a lid on worry by scheduling ‘worry time’: designate 15 minutes of the day to worry and keep your worries out of sight the rest of the time. In this way, you get a grip on worrying.
Factor soothing activities into your daily routine. For example:
· Yoga and meditation are very calming and doing a round of yoga can be uplifting.
· Take up a hobby like art or a craft or learn something new, like a musical instrument or another language, that will get your creative juices flowing.
· Make use of this unique period of a limited social movement to strengthen family bonds and rediscover each other. Set aside quality time together for games, sharing, or family activities like gardening.
· Minimise your exposure to negative news especially on social media and focus on the positive instead. Acts of kindness, such as donating a small food hamper to a needy family, also uplift the spirit.
· When faced with problems, thinking of one’s blessings is also uplifting. Often we have much to be grateful for.
A healthy body needs a healthy mind, so take good care of your mind in 2021.
Our doctors are also available on audio/video consultation via eChanelling, DOC990, ODOC and MyDoctor.lk, or simply by calling 0773511511, during this difficult time.
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