20 Ways to Improve Your Mental and Physical Health in 2020
Have an attitude of gratitude: Finding something to be thankful for every day can change your whole outlook on life. Whether you are grateful for your loved ones’ health, a reliable job (even if it may not be perfect), a fresh cup of coffee or a peaceful walk with your old dog, acknowledge it and be thankful for it. Here are some other things to work consider for bettering your life.
Improve your self-image: Identify what is affecting your self-esteem. Is it a weight issues, personal achievements, or something about your appearance? Identify things that you can change, set goals and stay focused. Make changes in your life to be a better you. Not to please anyone else. Connect with people who love you and support you no matter what. If you find your selfimage is holding you back from making changes, then speaking to a therapist or doctor may be necessary to get your mind back on track.
Drink more water: Many people do not consume nearly enough water. Every cell of your body needs water. Staying hydrated will improve your energy levels, make your skin smoother and more hydrated, improve bowel function, decrease muscle aches and promotes weight loss.
Wear sunscreen every day: Even during winter months you should take a few seconds to smear on a little SPF 30 sunscreen on sunexposed areas of your body. Not wearing sunscreen can lead to skin cancer and even aging and wrinkles. Do your face a favor and wear a little sunscreen. Your skin will thank you for it.
Wash your face every night. A gentle cleanser followed by sunscreen and antioxidant skin serums in the morning will start the day off right. In the evening, wearing a moisturizing mask after washing away the days makeup is important for your preventative anti-aging routine. It doesn’t have to be very expensive. Over-the-counter moisturizers like Cetaphil and Ceravae so a great job. Your doctor can also prescribe a Retin-A formulation to increase collagen production and brighten your appearance. Improving the appearance of your skin can improve your self-esteem and quality of life.
Move more and often: Exercise is an awesome and immediate mood booster and antidepressant. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins (or feel-good chemicals in your brain). There are many convenient exercise groups and clubs in the Shreveport/ Bossier area that are great ways to get out, make friends, get fit and feel good about yourself. But if group exercise isn’t your thing, even taking the dog for a walk or taking the stairs at work is a good start. Don’t try to conquer Mount Everest in a day; start small and you certainly can stay on track.
Find spirituality: Going to church will help you stay centered and remember what is most important in life. It is easy to get caught up in the rat race of life. Attending church weekly is an essential way to remind yourself of what the greater good in life truly is. You must have love for God and one another to have peace with yourself.
Balance your omega fats: Not all fat is bad fat. Omega 3 fats (found in salmon, tuna, flaxseed, olive oil and certain nuts) have many proven health benefits. Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to help balance bad cholesterol levels, decrease blood pressure, improve brain development during pregnancy and childhood, improve eye health, fight depression, fight inflammation, help ADHD, Alzheimer’s and other mental disorders. They are also suggested to improve the appearance of your skin. There are too many more benefits of omega 3 fatty acids to list. The bottom line is to be careful in balancing the fats that you eat. Bad fats can be found in vegetable and animal fats and can lead to heart disease causing inflammation. Talking to your doctor for tips to attain a right balance is very important.
Eat a well-balanced diet and cut the carbs: A diet that is high in vegetables and lean meats is key for overall physical and mental health. Starchy foods such as rice, potatoes, breads and foods that are high in fat such as fried foods are a direct ticket to inflammation and poor health.
Keep stress at bay: Stress is a key instigator in the inflammatory process. Studies have shown that strong emotional reactions lead to the release of inflammatory markers that are harmful to your body in many ways. It also leads to an increase in blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease, stroke and other serious ailments.
Eat something green: Leafy greens do a body good for several reasons. Eating “roughage” or insoluble fiber helps keep your gastrointestinal track on track and to lower your risk of colon cancer. Studies have shown that increasing your fiber intake, even if it is the only dietary change you make, will help you shed pounds. It can also help decrease your risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. Leafy greens are also full of vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium. Up to 60% of people don’t get enough magnesium in their diet, which is associated with poor sleep, anxiety and constipation. So be like Popeye and eat your greens!
Sleep more: The America Heart Association presented research that getting less than six hours of sleep was associated with a significant increase in three different inflammatory markers – interleukin-6, CRP and fibrinogen. Practicing good sleep hygiene (putting down the iPad before bed, having a good sleep routine) can help. If you are getting sufficient hours of sleep but still feel tired, you should speak with your doctor about getting tested for sleep apnea. Snoring, being overweight, large tonsils and certain facial features can make certain people likely to stop breathing in the middle of the night, which leads to decreased oxygen levels. Sleep apnea is associated with heart disease, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, so it should be taken seriously.
Stretch: Improving flexibility helps with joint stiffness, muscle aches and frequent injuries. Spending a few moments every morning to warm up and loosen up can make you feel better all day. Investing in yourself and taking time to do yoga will help you feel better physically and mentally.
Eat Indian food: Tumeric is a spice used in Indian cooking that has very high levels of the compound curcumin. This substance has a powerful anti-inflammatory that has been shown to decrease risk of heart disease, improve brain function and even treat cancers.
Take probiotics: A good life starts with a healthy gut. The benefits of probiotics go far beyond being regular. Certain inflammatory conditions such as eczema and certain allergies have been shown to improve with regular probiotic use.
Get help for addictions: Cigarettes, alcohol, drug abuse, gambling and other high-risk behaviors are serious and potentially deadly habits that can be affecting not only you but the ones you love. Depending on the severity of your habits, there are different levels of assistance out there to help. It could be nicotine patches or medications to help with smoking. Or there are several levels of support to help with more severe additions such as inpatient or outpatient rehab for drug and alcohol addiction. The first step is acknowledging that additions are a problem. The second step is knowing that it is OK and essential to reach out for help.
Do a digital detox: Put down your phone. Social media is directly associated with increase depression and anxiety. A constant exposure to other people’s success and social lives can cause you to feel inadequate and depressed. The antidote? Take a break! If you are feeling down, turn the phone off and find something about YOUR day and YOUR life that makes you feel good.
Pay it forward: Volunteering or just doing something nice for someone else can be more rewarding than anything you do for yourself.
Find generosity: Donating to a great cause will also help you find meaning in your life. There are wonderful community organizations in place to help those in need. But they need your help first.
Make friends: It could be at work, at the gym, at church, etc. Reach out to others. Ask someone to lunch, trivia night, or invite them over for the game. Increasing your circle could also help make a difference for someone else.
Paige Bundrick, MD is the director of facial plastic and reconstructive surgery – Ochsner/LSU Health. 318-675-6262.