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Start Strong and Stay Strong in 2022: Wellness Habits To Prioritize

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“New year, new me” pressure mounts in December, but if you’re worrying about prioritizing wellness next year, you’re in luck – perfection isn’t necessary or effective. You’re more likely to stick to a new routine if you choose a goal you’re already motivated by and approach it with small, incremental changes in your behavior. Following through with a new habit for just a few minutes a day helps you reach your goal without the additional stress of perfection, and can more sustainably support you as you incorporate wellness into your everyday life.

Below are a few ideas to get you started from us at Riverside Medical Clinic:

Hydrate!

If you’re usually dehydrated, enough water throughout the day should be your first health priority in the new year. Without enough fluids, your body can’t function properly, and you may feel headaches, dizziness and digestive issues frequently. Keep a bottle of water with you throughout the day, and if you don’t love the taste, experiment with lemon, lime or other fruits for a splash of flavor.

Prioritize sleep.

A third of US adults don’t get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to vehicle accidents or mistakes at work and at home, and is even linked with many chronic diseases and conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and depression. If aiming for 7-9 hours feels like a giant leap, try going to bed half an hour earlier until your body settles into that time. And don’t forget to avoid backlit screens for an hour before bed.

Socialize meaningfully.

If we’re not feeling at our best mentally or physically, connecting with others can do us good. Think of someone whose company or conversation makes you feel energized and cared for, and consider giving them a call or asking them to coffee. Don’t forget to prioritize pandemic precautionsat-home rapid test kids can take some of the stress out of in-person meetups! – first, and consider replacing your coffee date with a FaceTime call if you or your friend may have been exposed to COVID.

Stretch!

Stretching accompanied by deep breathing can provide much-needed joint care and mental clarity. Without a regular stretching routine, our muscles shorten and become tight, and we’re more likely to damage muscles when we exercise. Taking time for stretching and flexibility exercises throughout our lives can help with balance and fall avoidance as we age, too.

Get a move on.

You don’t have to take 10,000 steps a day to transform your health overnight – you can start smaller. Find a form of movement you actually enjoy, whether that’s an intense spin class, a neighborhood walk with friends, or a morning yoga video. Walking for just 30 minutes a day boosts mental health and decreases your risk for cardiovascular conditions. When movement isn’t a chore, you’ll cultivate a healthier relationship with exercise and feel better day to day.

Consider starting a morning routine.

If you’re able, make some time for yourself in the morning. Think about what you enjoy doing when you’re not rushed – drinking coffee or tea? Reading a book, taking a walk, or engaging in some deep breathing? A morning routine can lower stress levels, allowing you to feel more productive or prepared for the day ahead and can even increase your confidence. Taking this intentional time for yourself can even improve your personal relationships, as you’re allowing yourself some much-needed time to decompress before interacting with others.

Engage in mindfulness, however that looks for you.

If traditional meditation doesn’t keep you grounded, try a guided one, or find another way you enjoy living in the present – reading or journaling may help. Mindful movement like yoga or a walking meditation can provide more clarity to those of us on the fidgety side.

Eat clean (or at least cleaner).

Including more whole foods in your diet and finding substitutes for your favorite junk foods will improve your health and help you feel better overall. Add some greens and fruits to meals you’re used to eating, and work in some substitutes like Greek yogurt, dark chocolate, air-fried or roasted vegetables and popcorn with avocado oil for some of your favorite processed snacks. Read the ingredient labels on packaged foods at the grocery store, and if there’s an ingredient you can’t pronounce, give it a second thought before placing it in your cart.

Wear sunscreen!

Dermatologists recommend wearing SPF 30 every day (yes, even during the winter). If you wear makeup, you can often find a tinted moisturizer or foundation with SPF as well. The sun causes damage even on cloudy days, and small amounts of exposure can add up.

Reduce screen time.

American adults spend up to 11 hours on screens per day – that’s one reason why we can’t sleep. Unfortunately, the light emitted by many electronic devices disrupts sleep patterns, causing insomnia, headaches, and eye strain. Using social media networks and games can activate the brain’s reward system and lead to addictive behavior. Health experts recommend taking stand-up screen breaks every hour, and looking 20 feet away every 20 minutes to avoid further vision strains.

Make time for preventative care.

Even when you’re not sick, schedule regular appointments for wellness check-ups for you and your family. Look through your medical history and see if there are any routine tests or immunizations you qualify for – you can identify potential health risks before they get serious.

You can schedule a preventative care appointment at any of our locations in Riverside, and from all of us at Riverside Medical Clinic, here’s to a safe and healthy 2022!

Riverside Medical Clinic