Q: I always overdo it during the holidays, then I declare strict New Year’s resolutions which I’m lucky to stick to for two or three days. Any suggestions for sticking with a healthier lifestyle in 2020?
A: Why not think of a healthier lifestyle as “self-care” instead of punishment or deprivation?
Improving your self-care starts with being nice to yourself, including your mind and your body. Instead of imposing a list of rigorous restrictions on yourself, resolve to take better care of yourself.
Start with your thoughts.
Do you spend excessive time worrying, obsessing, or feeling angry? Are you stressed? Are you always pushing yourself to do more and then beating yourself up because you can’t possibly get so much done in one day?
Be nicer to yourself.
Give yourself more time to accomplish tasks so you aren’t always rushing and feeling stressed. Pat yourself on the back once in awhile when you complete something instead of just rushing on to the next thing on your to-do list.
Don’t spend too much time looking at your cell phone, emails, or the internet. Give yourself a one hour break every day from technology.
If you are depressed and anxious, exercise can help. Include exercise as a reward for your self-care instead of thinking of it as another obligation or burden. Have fun exercising.
There are so many ways to exercise other than going to a gym. Find exercises that you enjoy, maybe exercise with a friend and enjoy some socializing at the same time.
Try mixing up your exercise program for a more interesting variety of experiences and less chances of overuse injuries. Try meditation and yoga to quiet your mind and your overactive thoughts.
If your depression and anxiety persist or are severe, see a therapist to help you feel good again. You deserve it.
Socialization is another important aspect of self-care, so don’t isolate yourself because you are too busy, depressed, or are shy about reaching out to others. Try taking up some hobbies that includes other people like dancing, bridge, pickleball or golf.
Trying new things stimulates your brain as well as making your life feel fresh and renewed.
Self-care includes being nice to your body.
Ask yourself if your diet and your lifestyle habits are compatible with self-care. When you are shopping for groceries, or ordering food from a menu, ask yourself if the food you are choosing is the best choice for your body and your self-care.
Honor your body. Your energy and vitality will improve when you eat healthier and give up unhealthy lifestyle habits like smoking, vaping, excessive drinking, sedentary lifestyle, overeating, and high risk activities.
Aim for a healthy BMI of less than 25. You may have to learn more about nutrition to make the right food choices going forward.
It’s funny how people get stuck in a rut buying the same items in the grocery store and ordering the same meals in restaurants. You’ll need to break some of these habitual ways of eating and take another look at what you’ll need to change to take the best care of yourself.
Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors, including dark leafy greens. Eat whole grains, legumes, low fat animal proteins (or plant proteins), healthy fats like avocados or olive oil, and low fat dairy if tolerated. Do your best to eliminate refined sugar, soft drinks and processed foods.
Self-care includes seeing your doctor for check-ups, taking prescribed medications, and getting the recommended screening tests and vaccinations.