2020 has taken quite the toll on all of us. Many have worked to take care of sick loved ones or mourned the death of a friend. Parents and their children have had to adjust to hybrid or completely virtual learning. Others have fighting off loneliness with video chatting friends and picking up hobbies. Still others have struggled with job loss and a struggling economy.
With the New Year, many of us hope for a better future altogether.
We can take our future into our own hands by crafting attainable goals that can be accomplished through smaller, more manageable steps.
With so many health websites at your fingertips, it can be easy to search your symptoms online and find the worst diagnosis. But nothing beats being proactive and getting officially screened, especially if you have a history of different illnesses or conditions in your family.
- Get Screened for Type 2 Diabetes: The American Diabetes Association encourages you to take this quick online test to see if you are at risk for type 2 diabetes
- Get Screened for Lung Cancer: If you are an older current or former smoker, talk to your doctor about getting screened for lung cancer. Medicare covers those who are at the highest risk.
- Get a Colonoscopy: If you have a family history of colorectal cancer, personal history of polyps, or have lifestyle risk factors like obesity or smoking, ask your doctor about scheduling a colonoscopy. It’s a great way for people age 50 or older to prevent colon cancer. It may even save your life!
- Know your risk: Take 5 minutes to learn your risk for heart attack and stroke, and learn about actions you can take minimize those risks. Check out the American Heart Association’s tool for calculating your risk.
Health screenings are usually recommended based on age and other risk factors. Talk to your doctor about what health screenings they recommend for you—including mammograms, blood pressure screenings, and more.
Work on mind and body this year!
- Exercise your brain: There’s no known way to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, but doctors encourage you to keep your brain active. Pick a couple days a week or a specific time in your day to do crossword puzzles or brain games. You can get your friends and family involved in this resolution by playing games like chess or bridge.
- Exercise your body: You may not feel comfortable going to the gym just yet. Through different internet videos and articles, you can create your own at-home workouts. Dr. Wilson Mertens of the Baystate Regional Cancer Program says even "moderately vigorous" walking 3-5 hours per week (or 30 minutes most days of the week) can lower rates of breast and colorectal cancer. You don’t have to run a marathon every week. Just commit to doing more than what you are right now.
The key to achieving your goals may be breaking it down into smaller, achievable, and measurable steps.
What is "achievable"?
“Achievable” is defined by you. If you know you can’t make it to the gym seven days a week, don’t make that a goal. Start off with going two days a week and work your way up. That way, you don’t get as discouraged, and you have small victories to celebrate.
The same can be applied to mental exercise goals. Don’t promise yourself you’ll become a grandmaster at chess. Take a month to learn the rules. Take a month to play mini games. Take a month to play against a computer. You’ll get there.
Get a fresh start in the new year by having a tidy home. This could help reduce asthma triggers and reduce the chances of accidents and injuries.
- Deep clean your house: Scrubbing down your entire home can seem daunting. Break up the cleaning into smaller chunks. Clean the junk drawer one week (and don’t keep throwing things in there!), and clean out your closet the next.
- Make cleaning a routine: Write a list of all of the things that need to get done and put them in your calendar as “appointments.” That could mean vacuuming happens every Tuesday after work. You could book yourself a “dusting date” every Thursday morning, making sure to tackle one room a week with a damp cloth.
Spending Quality Time
This year, make sure you cherish the ones you love. Show them you care by spending quality time with friends and family.
“The breakfast, lunch, or dinner table is a good place to start when everyone can share their day and you can listen,” Dr. Barry Sarvet, the chair of Behavioral Health, said.
Some things you can do with family and friends from a distance?
- Have a movie night: Some streaming services give you the option to sync your screens so you can watch a movie at the same time – while continuing your video chat.
- Play virtual game: There are some online platforms and chatting apps that let you play games with people virtually. There are even virtual escape rooms!
- Have a meal “together”: Even though you may not be able to sit down around the table together, you can video chat the ones you love during a meal. You can even show off your culinary creations and swap cooking tips!
- Attend a virtual concert: Many artists have been putting on virtual musical events during the pandemic. Billboard lists some upcoming events you can stream with your loved ones.
- Take a virtual trip to a museum: Your together time can be educational too! Some museums are offering free virtual tours, including the National Museum of National History. You can take a walk-through together virtually, and each share your favorite facts you find out!
Go easy on yourself
While it’s good to have some accomplishments under your belt for the new year, remember to give yourself a break.
These are hard times, and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
If you’re feeling stressed, make sure you get the help you need. The CDC has a list of warning signs, helpful resources, and healthy coping skills you can use.
What does a healthy new year look like to you?
Share your New Year’s resolution with us on Facebook!