Center for Reducing Health Disparities

Improve Your Health in 2012

It’s new year’s resolution time again and here are some tips on improving your health in 2012.

1.  Manage stress better.

Stress can kill.  The first step in successful stress management is identifying your stress triggers. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Some causes of stress are obvious — job pressures, relationship problems or financial difficulties. But daily hassles and demands, such as commuting, arranging day care or being overcommitted at work, can also contribute to your stress level. Positive events also can be stressful. If you got married, started a new job and bought a new house in the same year, you could have a high stress level. While negative events in general are more stressful, be sure to also assess positive changes in your life.”  When you have identified your stress triggers, you can brainstorm strategies for dealing with them including using relaxation techniques. Practicing relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms by:

  • Slowing your heart rate
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Slowing your breathing rate
  • Increasing blood flow to major muscles
  • Reducing muscle tension and chronic pain
  • Improving concentration
  • Reducing anger and frustration
  • Boosting confidence to handle problems

To get the most benefit, use relaxation techniques along with other coping methods, such as exercising, getting enough sleep, and reaching out to supportive family and friends.

2.  Eat more fruits and vegetables.

According to http://www.choosemyplate.gov/, half of your plate at every meal should consist of fruits and vegetables.  Choose red, orange, and dark-green vegetables like tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and broccoli, along with other vegetables for your meals. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as dessert.

3. Get enough sleep.

Research shows that you’re more likely to succeed at your tasks—and enjoy greater well-being—if you get some serious shuteye.  Experts suggest that adults get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.  Below are some tips from the National Sleep Foundation:

  • Set a regular bedtime. Your body craves consistency, plus you’re more likely to get enough sleep if you schedule rest like your other important tasks.
  • De-caffeinate yourself. Drinking caffeine to stay awake during the day can keep you up at night. Try resisting the coffee and colas starting six to eight hours before bed.
  • De-stress yourself. Relax by taking a hot bath, meditating or envisioning a soothing scene while lying in bed. Turn off daytime worries by finishing any next-day preparations about an hour before bed.
  • Exercise. Working out can improve sleep in lots of ways, including by relieving muscle tension. Don’t work out right before bed, though, since exercise may make you more alert. If you like, try gentle upper-body stretches to help transition into sleep.
  • Make your bed a sleep haven. No paying bills or writing reports in bed. Also, if you can’t fall asleep after 15 minutes you can try some soothing music, but if you remain alert experts recommend getting up until you feel more tired.

4.  Get active.  Watch less TV and surf less internet.

Adults should do 2 hours and 30 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 1 hour and 15 minutes (75 minutes) a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Aerobic activity should be performed in episodes of at least 10 minutes, preferably spread throughout the week.

5.  Stop smoking.

Smoking takes years off of your life and is bad for not just the smoker, but all those around the smoker.  For assistance quitting smoking, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or our Center offers smoking cessation counseling for those who need additional assistance.  Contact us at (402) 559-9660. Check out the new smoke-free counter and calculator at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/SmokeFreeNE.

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One thought on “Improve Your Health in 2012

  • Excellent list for reducing and controlling stress, especially your advice for getting regular physical exercise.

    Plain old walking, is great for stress management. As is quick naps. (2 – 5 minutes)
    Edward Thorpe