Year after year, getting healthy remains the top New Year’s resolution for Americans. And with health care costing the United States roughly $3 trillion per year, improving the health and well-being of our country is a top priority. Below are ten simple steps you can take to improve your overall health and well-being.
1) Make a proactive commitment to improve your health and well-being
“Proactive healthcare differs from reactive in the sense that action is taking before symptoms manifest. Rather than waiting until you feel the symptoms of the cold or flu virus, you can take a proactive approach towards your health by boosting your immune system with vitamin C, antioxidants, and by drinking plenty of fluids.”
– Novi Patch
A clean bill of health usually does not materialize on its own. Healthy people are more likely to take a proactive approach to improve their health. They recognize that their choices and actions can impact their overall health and they are personally committed to improving their well-being.
2) Strive to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night
Studies show that people who sleep for 7-8 hours per night tend to be healthier than those who fail to get sufficient rest. In particular, people who get enough sleep exhibit the following positive health benefits:
- A lower risk of heart disease and stroke
- Lower rates of depression
- A healthier body weight
3) Maintain a positive outlook on life
“Positive thinking helps with stress management and can even improve your health… The positive thinking that usually comes with optimism is a key part of effective stress management. And effective stress management is associated with many health benefits. If you tend to be pessimistic, don’t despair — you can learn positive thinking skills.”
– Mayo Clinic Staff
Healthcare specialists with The Mayo Clinic point to the key role that a positive outlook on life can have on your health. In particular, positive thinking can help reduce stress, which can yield a host of health benefits.
4) Visit your primary care doctor and dentist annually
Annual physical examinations and dental cleanings are the cornerstones of improved health. Annual exams can help you catch minor health problems and address them before they have a chance to worsen. You can also learn valuable health maintenance tips from your doctor or dentist. If you suffer from pre-existing conditions, you may wish to ramp up the frequency with which you visit your primary care provider.
5) Maintain a healthy work-life balance
“With one in six UK employees experiencing anxiety, depression and stress in the workplace, it has never been more crucial to tackle the work-life balance and the factors leading to workplace stress.”
– Personnel Today
Work-related stress is a pervasive problem that affects the health and well-being of workers across the globe. You can help avoid stress, depression, and physical health problems by striving for a healthy work-life balance. You can do this by making sure to allow plenty of time for the following:
- Physical fitness activities
- Rest and relaxation
- Family activities
- Religious or spiritual activities
6) Become a more forgiving person
Researchers with Johns Hopkins highlight the positive impact that a forgiving attitude can have on our health. They note that forgiving people tend to exhibit lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, while people who hang on to grudges are more likely to suffer from severe depression and other health conditions. Karen Swartz, M.D., Director of the Mood Disorders Adult Consultation Clinic at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, offers some specific ways that you can become a more forgiving person:
- Do your best to empathize with the other person
- Develop realistic expectations in your interactions with others
- Remember to forgive yourself
7) Establish a regular exercise routine
“Just 30 minutes a day of exercise can make you feel better, give you more energy, and improve your sleep quality. Exercise can also be helpful in reducing negative thoughts and increasing serotonin, a “feel-good” hormone produced by our brains.”
– WholeBody Solutions
The benefits of daily exercise are numerous. In addition to helping you improve your physical fitness and keep your weight in check, exercise helps to slow down signs of aging and can even help reduce your risk of chronic disease.
8) Participate in workplace-sponsored health and wellness programs
“A working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research identified an association between employees who choose to participate in firm-sponsored wellness programs and lower average healthcare spending and healthy habits, like clean eating and exercise.”
– Kaitlyn Ely, American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC)
A growing number of today’s employers offer wellness programs for their employees. These programs often feature perks such as complimentary gym memberships, flu shot clinics, and other activities designed to bolster employee health. Studies show that employees who participate in workplace wellness programs are more likely to practice healthful habits and spend less on healthcare. Here are some common components of most wellness programs:
- Onsite medical screenings
- Company-organized walking or running groups
- Onsite fitness facilities and exercise classes
- Wellness newsletters and e-mails
- Cafeterias that offer healthful food choices
9) Monitor your progress toward your goals for better health and well-being
Improved health does not occur in a vacuum. Better health requires your ongoing commitment and assessment of which strategies are producing results. Make it a practice to monitor your health goals at least twice each year. Make a list of the changes you have made and the improvements you have noticed in your weight, energy level, blood pressure, and overall wellness.
10) Surround yourself with people who care about their health and well-being
Following the steps above to improve your health and well-being is not always easy. However, if you surround yourself with people who share your goal to lose weight or exercise regularly, it can be easier and more enjoyable to remain focused on your health and fitness goals.
The Bottom Line
Improved health rarely unfolds on its own. A clean bill of health is best achieved through a pro-active approach to wellness, a healthful diet, and a positive outlook on life. By following the ten steps above, you can put yourself on the path to a longer healthier life.