With Covid cases back on the rise, flu season in full swing, and the pressures of the cost-of-living crisis taking a toll on day-to-day wellbeing, looking after your health this New Year has never been more important. With household finances squeezed, it can be easy to put your health on the back-burner but there are a number of steps that will cost you next to nothing, that can help make 2023 a healthier one.
1. Increase your physical activity
This is one of the most difficult resolutions to stick to through the year, but it can be made far easier by picking activities that you enjoy. These can be as easy as walking your dog more, going on short cycles or enjoying a round of golf. It’s also important to start slowly and build up the amount of time you exercise. It’s far easier to stick to a fitness goal if you ensure they’re practical and attainable, so make sure you set realistic targets when you start out. If you want to run more, set a target to run 5k by Easter, rather than committing to running a marathon.
2. Get enough sleep
Sleep is essential to maintaining your physical and mental health and wellbeing, but fewer people are getting an adequate amount of sleep every night. Adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep a night, every night The turn of the year is a perfect time to assess your sleep quality and change any old habits that hamper it. It’s important to stick to a sleep schedule where possible - the body loves routine, so keeping your sleep consistent could make a huge difference. Cutting out artificial light before bed can improve the quality of sleep. Scrolling through social media and watching TV before bed keeps your brain stimulated, making it harder to switch off. It also suppresses melatonin, the hormone needed to make you feel sleepy.
3. Stop smoking
This is probably one of the most common and difficult New Year resolutions people make. When you initially go cold turkey on cigarettes, it can throw your body into shock. However, eating the right foods filled with nutrients will help to stop you reaching for a packet. Fresh produce, such as dairy, fruit, and vegetables are proven to worsen the taste of cigarettes, as well as fill your body with antioxidants and vitamin C that are typically depleted by smoking. It’s also vital that you remember to be patient - it’s rare that people successfully quit overnight. Remain positive and patient to remove old habits and take each day as it comes, remembering that after each day without a cigarette you’re one step closer to quitting for good, and you’ll be much better off financially too!
4. Cut back on alcohol
Reducing the amount of alcohol you drink will not only make you feel healthier and help you sleep better, it will also save you money. To kick start this, why not join in with Dry January, the annual campaign which sees millions of people give up alcohol for the month. Keeping a more proactive track on how much you’re drinking is also proven to help scale back how much you drink. There are lots of apps available to help you do this.
5. Get a check-up
If you are invited by your GP for a routine checkup, don’t put the appointment off. If you’re aged 40-74, you’re entitled to a free NHS Health Check every five years. Getting a check-up is a good thing as it can identify silent but serious health problems and enable you to manage them early, as well as allowing your doctor to keep tabs on your blood pressure and glucose levels. It’s likely that your doctor will also discuss physical activity, as well as smoking, drinking, and eating habits – which all affect almost every aspect of your health. Your doctor will always want the best for you and to make sure you remain as healthy as possible.
6. Use tech to help your health
More and more people are using apps to make their lives easier, resulting in less stress and less cost. For instance, you can download yoga and Pilates apps to aid your physical health, as well as guided meditation apps to help with your mental wellbeing. There are also several platforms that take the stress out of everyday tasks including the Pharmacy2U app which means you don’t have to worry about building your day around a trip to the pharmacy. Using the service takes the stress out of having to make a journey to town with the kids during half term or leaving work early to run to the chemist during odd opening hours or getting there to find out they’re out of your medication! Instead, you can have your medication delivered to your door, for free.