How do I stick to my New Year's resolutions
Larissa Orloff, MD, is a resident physician in Psychiatry at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center in Phoenix.
Question: My New Year’s resolution for 2012 is to concentrate on my health. Do you have any advice that will help me stick to it?
Answer: Focusing on your health is a great resolution. Often times, people forget that a healthy mind is just as important as a healthy body. Here are some tips for you to make sure your mental health is at its best in 2011.
Tip #1: Get adequate sleep at night. It is recommended that adults get between seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Poor sleep has been implicated in affecting people’s mood, concentration, cognitive functioning and may even contribute to obesity. If you have trouble winding down at night, try some yoga or herbal tea, limit caffeine and if you have persistent difficulty falling or staying asleep, it’s time to call your doctor. It’s that important!
Tip #2: Make enough time for leisure activities and things that you enjoy doing. Hobbies and non-work related activities are great ways to manage stress and enhance our sense of personal fulfillment. They are also healthy alternatives to alcohol, eating or tobacco which some people may turn to when they have down time or are trying to deal with stress.
Tip #3: Get exercise as often as possible. Studies have shown that consistent exercise can be mood boosting, contribute to better sleep, and can also have great health and weight loss benefits by lowering an individual’s risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Not only can these illnesses have serious medical consequences but they are also associated with a higher risk for developing depression or anxiety.
Tip #4: Adopt a healthy attitude. In other words, the way we think about things in life often affects how we end up feeling. For example if someone cuts you off on the road, instead of getting angry and frustrated, tell yourself, “I don’t agree with what he did because it wasn’t safe, however it wasn’t personal and I sometimes make mistakes when I drive.” If you approach stressful situations this way you’ll save yourself wasted time and energy getting irritated about the things you can’t control.
Tip #5: Stay connected with people. Even though relationships with family, friends and significant others can at times be stressful, maintain quality relationships and stay connected socially. Having other people in our lives, in good and bad times, has been shown to be vital for maintaining good mental health. Even if you just moved into town and you don’t know anyone, try signing up for an adult education class, frequent the local library as they often offer free events, or find a neighborhood café and bring a book just to get out of the home and be around people.