Healthier you in New Year

Staff Correspondent | Published: 20:32 pm, 06 Jan 2017, Fri

Healthier you in New Year

New Year’s resolutions are a bit like babies: They are fun to make but extremely difficult to maintain. It is hard to keep up the enthusiasm months after you have swept up the confetti, but it is not impossible. This year, pick one of the following worthy resolutions, and stick with it.   Lose weight The fact that this is perennially among the most popular resolutions suggests just how difficult it is to commit to. But you can succeed if you don’t expect overnight success. Plan for bumps in the road. Use a food journal to keep track of what you eat and have a support system in place.   Stay in touch Feel like old friends (or family) have fallen by the wayside? It is good for your health to reconnect with them. Research suggests people with strong social ties live longer than those who don’t. In fact, a lack of social bonds can damage your health as much as alcohol abuse and smoking, and even more than obesity and lack of exercise, a 2010 study in the journal PLoS Medicine suggests. In a technology-fixated era, it is never been easier to stay in touch — or rejuvenate your relationship — with friends and family, so fire up Facebook and follow up with in-person visits.   Quit smoking Fear that you have failed too many times to try again? Talk to any ex-smoker, and you will see that multiple attempts are often the path to success. Try different methods to find out what works. And think of the cash you will save! (We know you know the tremendous health benefit.)   Save money Save money by making healthy lifestyle changes. Walk or ride your bike to work, or explore carpooling (That means more money in your pocket and less air pollution). Cut back on gym membership costs by exercising at home. Take stock of what you have in the fridge and make a grocery list. Aimless supermarket shopping can lead to poor choices for your diet and wallet.   Cut your stress A little pressure now and again will not kill us; in fact, short bouts of stress give us an energy boost. But if stress is chronic, it can increase your risk of — or worsen — insomnia, depression, obesity, heart disease, and more. Long work hours, little sleep, no exercise, poor diet, and not spending time with family and friends can contribute to stress.   Volunteer We tend to think our own bliss relies on bettering ourselves, but our happiness also increases when we help others. And guess what? Happiness is good for your health. A 2010 study found that people with positive emotions were about 20% less likely than their gloomier peers to have a heart attack or develop heart disease. Other research suggests that positive emotions can make people more resilient and resourceful.   Cut back on alcohol Drinking alcohol in excess affects the brain’s neurotransmitters and can increase the risk of depression, memory loss, or even seizures. Chronic heavy drinking boosts your risk of liver and heart disease, hypertension, stroke, and mental deterioration, and even cancers of the mouth, throat, liver, and breast.   Get more sleep You probably already know that a good night’s rest can do wonders for your mood — and appearance. But sleep is more beneficial to your health than you might realise. A lack of sleep has been linked to a greater risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. And sleep is crucial for strengthening memories (a process called consolidation). So take a nap — and don’t feel guilty about it.   Travel The joys and rewards of vacations can last long after the suitcase is put away. Traveling allows us to tap into life as an adventure, and we can make changes in our lives without having to do anything too bold or dramatic. It gets you out of your typical scenery, and the effects are revitalising. It is another form of new discovery and learning, and great for the body and the soul.