The New Year is often a time of reflection and resolution setting. However, the goals we set are sometimes unattainable or forgotten after only a few short weeks. If you’re struggling to set goals for the coming year, follow one or more of these five simple things to take care of yourself both physically and mentally.
- Start a gratitude journal: Starting a gratitude journal can be a good way to document throughout the year what you have to be thankful for. Each morning, write down three things you are grateful for. Many mornings it may be the same three: your spouse, your family and your friends, for example. At the end of each day, repeat the same exercise, plus look for specific things that happened during the day for which you are grateful. You can purchase a gratitude journal online, but you can also use a blank notebook or the notes section of your smartphone.
- Meditate with deep breathing: As the basis for most mediation or relaxation techniques, deep breathing can produce a relaxation response by encouraging you to intentionally focus on taking slow deep breaths. Deep breathing helps disengage your mind from distracting or negative thoughts, and can help with combating depression and anxiety. It also slows your heart rate, which can reduce your blood pressure and lower stress levels. Try this three-minute deep breathing exercise to get you started.
- Visit your doctor and make sure you’re up to date on all important tests and screenings: One of the best ways for you to protect your health as you age is through health screenings. Identifying health problems in the earliest stages allows for prompt treatment and offers the best chance for a positive outcome. However, oftentimes it’s these important screenings and tests we bypass, and instead only visit our doctors when there is a healthcare concern. Know what healthcare screenings you should be getting as you age, and schedule yours this year.
- Smile more: There are countless health benefits to smiling, especially when it comes to your health. In fact, studies have shown that smiling can help you live better, happier, and longer. Studies show simply smiling can reduce stress and even improve your blood pressure—and it’s easy.
- Create a crisis file: When facing a healthcare crisis, you don’t want you or your family members scrambling to find important information. Create a crisis file so family members have what they need in the event of an emergency. A crisis file can include anything from power of attorney and advanced directives to insurance information and banking and credit card accounts.