Now that the holidays are over, we begin to turn our focus toward the things that we’re most looking forward to and what we want to work on throughout the year (otherwise known as New Year’s resolutions.) Many of the resolutions that people make are often health-oriented, including but not limited to:
• Eating habits
• Physical activity
• Mental health
Eating habits: The holidays are a time where people tend to overindulge in certain foods – particularly those that are high in sugar, fats and carbohydrates. As a result, wanting to eat healthier is one of the most common resolutions that people will make when entering into a new year. Unfortunately, sticking to a healthy diet is also one of the most common resolutions that fail. This is because rather than focusing on eating healthy foods, people focus more on going on specific diets. While certain diets, such as ketogenic diets, can be successful, there are also certain diets that fail due to the fact that many of them are “fad” diets, which focus on the short-term benefits as opposed to long-term benefits. Thus, when making the decision to eat healthier, you need to remember that the goals you set are realistic.
For example, if you eat nothing but fruits and vegetables for a week, you’re not going to lose hundreds of pounds in the same amount of time. That’s not a realistic expectation to have. However, if you incorporate fruits and vegetables along with other healthy foods (i.e. foods high in protein, rich in fibre, etc.) into your everyday meals, you will start to see results over time. Because many diets also tend to focus on the elimination of certain foods, this can also make the idea of healthy eating un-enjoyable. Therefore, it’s important that you switch your thinking and instead focus on what you can add to your diet to make it healthier versus the things you have to subtract. For example, start committing to eating an apple a day or drinking more water, and you can build upon that.
Physical activity: Both during and following the holidays, it’s not uncommon to be less physically active. As a result, you may also notice weight gain. Combined with healthy eating habits, physical activity will not only help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, but it can also improve your overall health in many other ways – such as reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
If you are not used to getting regular physical activity, start with what you know your body can handle. For example, by going for a walk each day. As little as 30 minutes of regular physical activity each day can help you start to reap the benefits.
Strength conditioning to target muscles, as well as flexibility training to improve posture, balance, and reduce risk of injury to the body can also be beneficial.
Mental health: Our mental health is just as important as every other aspect of our health. The holidays are commonly associated with an increase in things like depression, and anxiety. Coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, these conditions can be exacerbated even further, which is why it’s important to be in tune with your mental health – as well as check on those around you. Mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety can often be combated with things like counselling or medication. However, it’s also important to reach out to a trusted individual – such as a friend or family member – to talk about how you’re feeling.
If you’re in any kind of distress or having thoughts of suicide, it’s also important that you seek immediate medical attention by reaching out to your physician or calling 911. There are also 24/7/365 help lines available to both youth and adults via the Kids Help Phone or Crisis Service Canada.