As we enter 2019, many of us resolve to make better health choices. Others, however, realize they’d like to make changes but aren’t quite sure how to get started. Today, we will share some simple ways you can improve your health in the upcoming year and restore a feeling of wellness.
“Wellness” is a term that some people consider synonymous with physical fitness. However, it refers to more than just the numbers on the scale or the number of reps you can perform at the gym. While setting physical activity milestones for yourself is undoubtedly part of wellness, it also encompasses things that you can’t see. For example, your mental well-being, ability to get a great night of sleep, and other internal factors also contribute. Those components of wellness that you can’t physically see can make a world of difference in how well you feel. Let’s take a look at some small changes that can add up to vast improvements.
1 – Check for Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D is essential for our wellness. We need this vitamin for everything from bone strength to boosting your immune system to maintaining heart health.
The challenge is this. Your body manufactures it from its cholesterol only when the skin’s exposed to sunshine. Many people don’t receive sufficient sunlight for this building process. If you live in an urban environment, wear sunscreen, spend a lot of time indoors, or have a deep skin tone, you are probably Vitamin D deficient.
While you can eat foods that contain the vitamin, like fatty fish, it’s difficult to consume enough each day to maintain the proper levels. To see if you are suffering from an unseen Vitamin D deficiency, get a general wellness lab screening. From there, your pharmacist can recommend supplements that will ensure that you receive the Vitamin D that your body craves.
2 – Know Your Blood Pressure
Hypertension, most often known as high blood pressure, has rightfully earned the term “the silent killer.” Sudden onset heart attacks and strokes can strike without warning because the only prior symptom is often hypertension—which is asymptomatic in many patients.
In fact, hypertension is a leading cause of death in the United States when you combine heart attacks and stroke. According to the team at the Centers for Disease Control, 75 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure. Of those patients, just 54% are controlling their blood pressure.
Once you have high blood pressure, controlling it becomes a priority. Lifestyle changes include daily prescription medications, dedication to an exercise routine and physical fitness, and learning to enjoy a low-fat, reduced calorie diet. If you have hypertension, you might not know it. The only way is to get it checked.
3 – Re-think Zinc
Zinc is a mineral that’s vital for your wellness. You need only small amounts of it for cellular repair and immune system strength. In fact, zinc is reputed to help shorten the length and severity of the common cold that most of us suffer from on occasion. But there’s one little problem. Your body doesn’t manufacture this mineral; you must consume it.
You can consume zinc found in meats, shellfish, nuts and eggs. If you don’t eat enough of these products due to dietary restrictions, food allergies or being a vegetarian or vegan, you might be zinc deficient. Your doctor or pharmacist can help you determine the best supplement for your needs. Ramping up your immune system with zinc could help you stay strong during this cold and flu season.
4 – Clear the Clutter (in your medicine cabinet)
When you have a bout of the flu or a raging headache, you want to reach for your tried-and-true at-home remedy. The problem is, as these medications age, they begin to lose potency. Add to the fact that you probably store them in the damp environment of your bathroom, and it could mean that your medicine won’t respond as well as it used to. Take time early in this New Year to check your medications—prescription and over-the-counter—for expiration dates. Separate the expired medicine into two categories: OTC and prescription.
Create a list. Add the OTC medications that need to be replaced on a pharmacy shopping list, so you don’t forget to replenish them. Look at your prescription bottles to check if you have refills available. Call your pharmacist for refills on that are refillable. For those without refills, call your doctor and ask them to send refills to your pharmacy before you toss the bottle.
5 – Commit to Quit Unhealthy Habits
If you’re a smoker, you probably think this is aimed at you. In part, that’s true. However, virtually everyone has unhealthy habits to break. Give yourself an honest check-up.
Do you do any of the following:
- Smoke cigarettes?
- Use smokeless tobacco (snuff)?
- Drink alcohol?
- Overeat regularly or carry excess weight?
- Remain sedentary throughout the day?
- Stress out over every little thing?
- Have poor sleep habits?
Most of us will probably admit to at least one of those things. However, each item on this list can degrade your overall wellness—mentally, physically, or both—and increase the odds of you becoming ill or developing heart disease or cancer.
Try taking small steps by cutting down on indulging in poor habits and replacing them with better options. For example, if you overeat and love crunchy potato chips, substitute a sweet, crisp apple instead. Or, if you smoke 15 cigarettes a day, decrease them down to 10 and chew five sticks of gum, instead. By decreasing the negative behaviors and increasing the positives over a longer amount of time, you will stand a better chance of shaping new behaviors for long-term health. If you need more help in modifying your unhealthy habits, have an open conversation with your doctor for more advice.
The New Year is a new opportunity for each of us to improve our wellness. The most challenging part of a New Year’s Resolution is often knowing what steps to take. By taking these small but essential steps, you will be setting yourself up for a new and healthier lifestyle.