New year, new healthy lifestyle!

We've finally put the famously indulgent festive period behind us. Even if you hadn't followed our tips for a healthy Christmas, you may want to start the New Year with a bit of a health kick.

As a new year begins, many of us will still be trying to follow our resolutions as closely as we can. Whether your resolution was to lose weight, stop smoking or drink less, it can sometimes be hard to stick to a plan as the weeks go on.

 

As part of the Occupational Health services that we offer, we're aware that businesses recognise the importance of making healthier choices both in work and at home. So we thought we'd outline some of the best ways to ensure that this is the year that you truly kick those bad habits and become the healthiest you've ever been.

Psychologists have found that people are more likely to succeed if they follow these tips:

  • Make only one resolution: your chances of success are greater when you channel your energy into changing just one thing.
  • Break your goal into a series of steps:  this allows you to easily measure your success.
  • Tell your friends and family about your resolution: you're more likely to get support and want to avoid failure. 
  • Make a checklist of how achieving your resolution will help you: this will keep you motivated. 
  • Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time:  we're only human, so it's normal to have setbacks. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether

Sticking to your resolution is one thing, but sometimes it can be a challenge to get started. As such, we've outlined some of the most common New Year health resolutions and provided tips to ensure you meet your goals in a healthy way.

Lose weight

If you want to lose weight, you need to make sensible changes to your diet that work for you. The right diet plan will promote safe and sustainable weight loss whilst ensuring that you learn to make healthier food choices. It's important that your plan combines exercise with healthy food choices in order for you to stick with it and maintain results. A healthy diet normally consists of: 

  • Eating a variety of foods from all five food groups
  • Being aware of your portion size
  • Not skipping meals
  • Ensuring you drink plenty of water
  • Being aware of food labels and avoiding ‘reds’
  • Keeping to the recommended daily amounts of salts, fats and sugars
  • Including exercise/activity in your day
  • Avoiding fad diets

Stop smoking

Quitting smoking is notoriously difficult but the advantages make it one of the most worthwhile things you can do to improve your health. If you want to stop smoking, you can make small changes to your lifestyle that may help you to resist the temptation to light up a cigarette:

  • Perseverance is key: you might have tried to quit smoking before and not managed it, but don't let that put you off.
  • Change your Routine: the after-dinner cigarette is usually the favourite and it can be hard to resist. Try changing your routine after mealtimes. For example, get up and do the dishes straight away, or settle down in a room where you don't usually smoke.
  • Identify when you crave cigarettes: a craving can last up to five minutes, but if you're prepared for these cravings, you can distract yourself.
  • Get moving: taking a five-minute walk instead of a cigarette break encourages health and wellbeing in the workplace, reduces cravings and may help your brain to produce anti-craving chemicals.
  • Keep your hands and mouth busy: Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT) can double your chances of success as it offers a replacement to cigarettes. There are patches, tablets, lozenges, gum and a nasal spray available. Plus, if you like holding a cigarette, there are handheld products like the e-cigarette.
  • Make a list of reasons to quit: keep reminding yourself why you made the decision to give up as this will motivate you.
  • Get some support: contact your GP or local NHS stop smoking services. Alternatively, you can call the Smokefree National Helpline on 0300 123 1044 to speak to a trained adviser.

Get active

If you want to live a healthy, fulfilling and long life, it's essential that you try to be as active as possible. In order to maintain a good level of health, you should try to be active on a daily basis and complete a minimum of 150 minutes of physical activity each week.

For most people, the easiest way to get moving is to make exercise a natural part of everyday life. This can be done by walking or cycling instead of using the car to get around. For any type of activity to benefit your health, you need to be moving quick enough to increase your heart rate. The good news is, it's been medically proven that people who partake in regular physical activity have:

  • up to a 35% lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
  • up to a 50% lower risk of type 2 diabetes
  • up to a 30% lower risk of early death
  • up to a 30% lower risk of depression
  • up to a 30% lower risk of dementia

Drink less alcohol

It's a well-known fact that excessive alcohol is bad for your health. Ideally, you shouldn't be drinking more than fourteen units of alcohol per week. To put things into perspective, fourteen units is the equivalent of six pints of average-strength beer or ten small glasses of low-strength wine. If you regularly drink more than 14 units a week, try these simple tips to help you cut down:

  • Mind the size: you can still enjoy a drink, but do so in moderation by opting for smaller sizes. Try bottled beer instead of pints, or a small glass of wine instead of a large one.
  • Have a lower-strength drink: cut down the alcohol by swapping strong beers or wines for ones with lower strength.
  • Stay hydrated: have a glass of water before you have alcohol and alternate alcoholic drinks with water or a soft drink.
  • Take a break: have several alcohol-free days each week.

Drink more water

It's no secret that most of us don’t drink enough water every day. You should start by substituting your 2/3 cups of tea or coffee per day with a glass of water instead. Gradually increase this by drinking a large glass of water before you go to bed each night.

We've already explored how drinking two litres of water a day could improve your productivity. Over time, if you increase to this amount, it will start to become second nature. The more water you drink, the better you will feel. It's a simple yet effective way to improve your health. You'll see a decrease in headaches and it can also help you to lose weight!

Whatever your resolution is, we wish you a happy and healthy New Year. 

We can also help to improve the wellbeing in your workplace with a workplace health check. If you want to find out more, get in touch with our team today. 

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Categories: Health & WellbeingHealth SurveillanceOccupational Health

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