You want to achieve and succeed in 2022 but need guidance getting started. We’ve got you covered! Check out these 6 doctor-recommended wellness goals – no gym membership required.
1. Be mindful.
“We all have a certain amount of tolerance for stress. Anxiety is our default setting. We need to accept how hard this pandemic is and focus on the things that build us back up,” said Nicholas Peterkin, MD, a family physician with Baptist Primary Care. “We can strengthen our resilience and emotional readiness and find ways to be optimistic. Mindfulness is the feel-good stuff, and it works.”
2. Try creative relating.
Put an emphasis on your relationships. A large part of health and human nature is being social.
“With two years of COVID-19, we’ve been less social and more fearful about traveling and gathering. We should focus on using FaceTime and calling friends because having healthy social relationships is one of the best predictors of longevity. It’s therapeutic to have a good talk, so we need to get creative in the ways we gather.”
Instead of sitting inside for coffee, meet friends safely outdoors in nature. Go hiking or walk the beach. Commit to more outdoor events where the risks are lower.
3. Go to sleep.
Each year, roughly one in four Americans develop insomnia.
“With more stress, it’s difficult to get restful sleep, which is the main way the brain heals. We have to be disciplined about setting bedtime goals, but not too militant because the harder you try, the harder it sometimes is to fall asleep,” Dr. Peterkin said.
Treat yourself to something new in the bedroom, like cotton sheets, a sound machine or a weighted blanket.
“Try to be consistent with a sleep routine. We want to be aware of our sleep but not obsess about it. Maybe find a long-form podcast you enjoy and go to bed listening to it.”
4. Set a challenge.
Keep notes of movies you want to watch or books you hope to read and challenge yourself to conquer the list this year.
“In my practice, I talk about positive distractions. It’s great to have hobbies and outlets to get away from the craziness of the world,” Dr. Peterkin said. “You get a sense of reward because the challenge is doable.”
5. Eat sugar-free.
Nutrition is a big part of weight loss.
“Be aware of your total calories and aim for more plant-based foods. There is no magic bullet, variety is the key,” Dr. Peterkin said. Drastic changes are not sustainable. Instead, he advised going for slow changes over time:
- Reduce refined carbohydrates like potatoes and white bread. “I never say to eliminate carbs, that’s too hard. Try to choose whole-grain breads and brown rice as alternatives.”
- Don’t drink your calories. Skip soda, highly sugared beverages and coffee creamers.
- Cut back on processed and red meat. This helps reduce your cholesterol and risk of cancer. Think about eating fish or poultry instead of a burger. Try to eat red meat only once a day and then go down to once a week.
- Make portion sizes smaller.
- Enjoy more fruits and vegetables.
6. Take a stroll.
Exercise doesn’t have to be intensive, according to Dr. Peterkin. “You don’t have to hurt yourself or be overly aggressive. Walking is good for your bone density, mental health, blood sugar control and heart health.” Start with five minutes a day. The goal is to work up to 30 minutes three times a week.
While you’re planning, it’s a good idea to see your primary care physician regularly.
“The greatest value of a wellness visit is having the opportunity to look at your health map and create a game plan for the year. That includes screening tests, blood work and vaccines,” Dr. Peterkin said. “I also encourage patients to write down a list of questions we can cover during their appointment.”