“As the new year approaches, women are often focused on setting resolutions, but it’s beneficial to reflect on your health habits from the past year. Taking stock of your achievements lays the groundwork for positive growth and sets the stage for a healthy future,” said Allyson Brooks, M.D., F.A.C.O.G, Ginny Ueberroth Executive Medical Director Endowed Chair, Hoag Women’s Health Institute.
When it comes to your health journey, it is important to make sustainable goals that you can maintain throughout the year. Health and wellness goals are a great way to start the new year off on the right foot.
When it comes to health and wellness, the main areas of focus are the classic categories of sleep, diet, exercise and stress. They are indispensable, taking care of these areas will always leave you looking and feeling your best.
Having a clear sense of purpose will help you get up every morning with a goal in mind. Let’s explore some of Dr. Brooks’ insights on personal goals that will help you Live Better. Longer.
Sleep. It is far more common than it used to be for women to mention how much sleep they are getting or whether they are experiencing difficulty sleeping. Women are consciously trying to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, and they understand more than ever how sufficient sleep affects mental and physical health. Sleep hygiene tips include avoidance of screens for two hours prior to bedtime, having a comfortable bedroom atmosphere (one that is dark, quiet and relaxing), engaging in 5-10 minutes of deep breathing, guided meditation, or listening to meditation music (my favorite is cello/piano/guitar music on YouTube).
Diet. Our team of dietitians encourage women to eat healthy all year round, but we understand this is not always an easy task. Instead of attempting restrictive diets, focus on consuming higher-nutritional value foods and being mindful to stop eating when you are 80% full. Include more whole foods, plant-based foods and fewer processed foods. Many people honed their cooking skills during the pandemic, building on those skills will help you limit your exposure to processed and fast food.
Exercise. If you’ve built an exercise regimen that works for you, work it! If not, it’s never too late to start. The general rule of thumb is to aim for 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. Weight-bearing exercises like walking, hiking, dancing, golf, pickleball and tennis are great ways to maintain strong bones. Please know that movement in general plays a role in stress management and improved sense of well-being.
Stress. Like sleep, more people view mental health as part of their overall health. It is well understood and well accepted that our mental wellbeing affects our physical wellness. Check in with yourself, seek out expert help if you need it and incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily life, such as meditation, yoga, therapy and mindfulness training. Take inventory of the time spent on social media and consider substituting screen time for activities that bring you joy – a walk, a short hike, a phone call to connect and laugh with a friend. And most importantly, practice and learn how to say “No” without feeling guilty – this simple act of self-compassion cannot be overstated.
In addition to the classic categories of sleep, diet, exercise and stress, it is important to prioritize spending time with people who fill you up, not leave you feeling drained.
As the year comes to an end, remember to stick with things that have been working well, toss out what doesn’t and experiment with some novel ideas. If you are in need of a little extra guidance and help going into the new year, Hoag’s Women’s Health Institute is here to support you.
Here’s to a safe, healthy and empowered new year!