Happy New Year! OK, I know I’m 14 days late, but even two weeks into the new year and new decade, a few of you might need a reminder or two. Did you make a couple resolutions? A list of resolutions can be wonderful, but if you’ve tried before and it hasn’t worked out for you, how about giving something else a shot?
One word — Happiness! This one word can open yourself to positiveness, energy, love, compassion to your family and friends and your job, high self-esteem, and — most important — good health.
Happiness and health go together…bread and butter, Tom and Jerry, salt and pepper…you know what I mean. They are inseparable. Happiness can be a lifestyle in each and every one of us so let’s see what we can do when we put the two together.
Let’s talk diet. Eat a rainbow of foods, especially the veggies and fruits. (Doesn’t that sound fun? I love rainbows.) By eating these foods of different colors, you get a wide range of nutrients. Check nutrition labels. Don’t skip your meals and make sure you take your time while eating. Put away your phone and have a conversation at mealtime.
Get adequate sleep. You can see the 11 p.m. oil burning at my house which I need to cut out of my routine. Adults should average at least seven hours a night with children requiring more. Good sleep can restore your energy levels, lower your stress levels, and, a study done at Harvard University, sharpen your thinking skills.
Be a “Positive Pat” not a “Pessimistic Paul/Paula.” Look around you and appreciate what you have rather than what you don’t. You don’t have to look too far to see someone that is not as fortunate as you. Be present in the moment and don’t worry about the past or future.
Make time for friends and family by surrounding yourself with company of people you enjoy and support you. Negative people like to bring down people with them. The quality of those you spend your time with have a wonderful effect on you.
Practice a new healthy habit. Floss your teeth on a regular basis, cut back on your screen time on your devices, or practice some deep breathing or meditation. I’ve started a new bedtime routine and feel very good about it.
Do you remember the comedian, Milton Berle? He was one funny guy who once said,’ “laughter is an instant vacation.”’ Don’t you love to laugh and go on vacation? A big, old belly laugh can have some great health benefits.
You knew I was going to get here…last but on the top of my list is exercise. Start before you get out of bed by doing a few stretches. Many workout facilities have “new year” specials going on so take advantage of a deal. Put exercise into your daily schedule and treat it like an appointment or important event that you can’t miss. Endurance activities, flexibility, and strength training are all necessary for a well-balanced routine.
It is easy to be happy when you are healthy. If your body is in tip top shape, you feel good. If exercise is a part of your daily routine, I bet those endorphins have kicked into your blood stream. You may remember me writing about those chemicals that are released that gives you a feeling of happiness and relaxation while you exercise. They really do exist.
Choose exercises you enjoy and make sure you change it up. Join a class, dress warmly and head outside in the cold, or ask some friends to start walking a few mornings a week. I know of four women that walk several times a week at Great River Medical Center. The other morning I talked with them when they were done, and they agreed none of them wanted to venture out that morning but were all smiles and happy when they were finished.
Well-known author and scholar, Anthony D’Angelo, offers one of my favorite quotes — “wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.” So, follow these tips for a healthy and happy 2020. Make it your healthiest year so far and be happy while living it.
Julie Kirk is a fitness instructor at Great River Health Fitness. Her column appears in Living Well the second Tuesday of each month.