Another year, another set of new year's resolutions. A huge number of us will be tackling the usual suspects of weight loss, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol, and we would heartily encourage you all in that. However, there are other 'easy wins' for your overall wellbeing that, if you complete them, may give you just the boost you need to tackle the big guns!
Here they are:
Reconnect with your friends
Social interaction is essential to general emotional health, so it’s well worth finding the time to reconnect with buddies who make you feel good. Facebook is a good start point, but remember that everyone ‘curates’ their social media feeds. Don’t fall for that ‘everyone else’s life is perfect’ illusion. In the end, there is no substitute for a face to face meet, or an unhurried catch up on the phone.
Take up a new hobby or learn a new skill
Perhaps there is something you have been yearning to try to a while? If not, isn’t it about time you threw yourself in to a new experience? Carpe diem – sign up to that evening course, join that choir, find that dance group! Not only will you meet lots of new people, but you will get a great sense of accomplishment, and perhaps open the door to a whole new world of possibilities…
Go to bed half an hour earlier
Most of us could do with getting a few extra zzzs, but all too often, bedtime gets postponed by various ‘essential’ tasks that would either be better tackled with fresh eyes in the morning, or that really don’t need to be tackled at all (Social media, aimless googling etc. etc.) Why not discipline yourself to be in bed a full half hour earlier than usual for a week and see the difference it makes. Not sleepy yet? We’re sure you can think of something else to do before you drop off…
Book your smear test
Ladies, who is not guilty of losing track of this one... so phone your surgery... now, if they're open… find out whether you are due a check and book it in!
Try mindfulness or meditation
10 minutes of quality ‘me’ time per day is really all it takes to make a tangible difference to your state of mind and general wellbeing. Try one of the many easy guided meditation apps out there, or sign up to a mindfulness class.
Give something back..
..it’s a sure fire way to make yourself feel fantastic. Giving blood and having a donor card are both amazing things you can do for someone else, and cost you nothing. Why not register for both today. www.blood.co.uk And how about making your workout a win/win? Communal gardening schemes are a great way of meeting friends, getting a sweat on, and improving your local environment. Try Hampshire Volunteers for ideas. Or if you are ready to take your volunteering to the next level, why not set up the Winchester or Southampton hub for www.goodgym.org?
Get a blood pressure check.
Many blood pressure issues go undetected for too long. Current guidance is for a check at least every 5 years for those aged 40 or above, but this should increase to every year if any of the following apply: over 65 years, overweight, have a relative with high blood pressure, are of African or Caribbean descent, eat too much salt, sedentary lifestyle, drink alcohol or caffeinated drinks to excess.
Do a workplace wellbeing audit!
First up, check your postural alignment at your workstation to avoid back and neck problems. Feet flat on the floor, knees in line with or slightly lower than, your hips, and ensure your back is supported. The keyboard should be at a height that allows your shoulders to relax, and your elbows should be in a slightly open position (100° to 110°), with your wrists and hands straight.
Secondly, make sure you are taking regular mini breaks, in which you get up and move around - prolonged static postures inhibit blood circulation. Lastly, are you finding your eyes get tired, and maybe dry and uncomfortable? Eye fatigue can be alleviated by taking your eyes off your screen and focussing on something distant for a few moments. Those staring at a screen blink less frequently, causing dry uncomfortable eyes, so it’s worth making a conscious effort to counteract this.
Try a new class in the gym,
Try a new class in the gym, or a new running route/exercise video/fitness app- there are so many options there really is no reason to get bored. Force yourself to try something that you really don't think is 'you'... just the once... you might surprise yourself. A variety of different physical activity helps to maintain balance within your body.
Restrict evening screen time
There is increasing evidence that the blue light emitted by electronics and energy-efficient light bulbs is particularly detrimental to sleep patterns. Blue light, which in nature is only present in bright daylight, suppresses the body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. We suggest a screen curfew two to three hours before bed, and if you don’t like sleeping in absolute darkness, opt for dim red night lights, as red light appears to have the least impact on melatonin production.
Ditch angry bird for something altogether more rewarding!
If you have some time to kill and a smart phone in your hand, did you know there are now games that, as you play them, actually help analyse cancer data, thereby improving diagnosis and treatment of the disease? Go to http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/citizen-science-apps-and-games-from-cancer-research-uk and you can start to make a real difference in your down time.
Stop ignoring that niggle
Are you suffering with some ongoing ache, pain, discomfort, irritation, that you have either not had time to take to your doctor, or not felt it was 'bad enough' to warrant an appointment? All too often, we see patients who have been putting up with symptoms (be they physical, psychological or emotional) for too long. Over time, even supposedly 'low level' issues can be every bit as upsetting and harmful as more acute conditions, and no good doctor will make you feel as though you are wasting their time. If you could benefit from a fresh approach, and a doctor who will revisit your health concerns from the beginning, give Winchester GP a call.
Check your moles
... to spot early signs of melanoma (skin cancer)
Check your moles every few months, and see your doctor if you have any of the following:
- moles with uneven colouring – most moles only have one or two colours, but melanomas have lots of different shades
- moles with an uneven or ragged edge – moles are usually circular or oval with a smooth border
- bleeding, itching, red, inflamed (swollen) or crusty moles
- moles that get a lot bigger – most moles are no bigger than the width of a pencil
Conduct a wardrobe cleanse!
Clear out your wardrobe- if it doesn’t fit, or you haven’t worn it for a year, (or forgotten you even owned it!) it’s on borrowed time- donate to charity or organize a clothes swap with friends. Then enjoy how much more relaxed the mornings are now that you can openyour wardrobe, and actually see the wood for the trees!!
May we hand the microphone to the great designer William Morris: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”
Make ‘fun’ a priority
Plan one thing per month to do with your loved ones that is purely for fun - a play, a picnic in the park, a adventure playground, a stand up comedian
Count Your Blessings (Aka Listen to Aretha Franklin!)
We've heard this since infants school, right? But it is more powerful than a Jedi mind trick as a means of improving your overall state of mind.A couple of ideas for you to try:
1) At the end of each day, think back and decided what was your 'best thing' that day. If you nailed a presentation at work, that's great, but loving the feeling of coming home to a warm house is equally valid, as is seeing a special person (even if you see them every day!). If you are lucky enough to sit down to a family meal, invite everyone else to tell you their best thing- it's a great positive conversation starter and kids love getting involved.
2) Put your blessings in a jar. For the whole of 2016, whenever something good happens (again, it might be a landmark; a new job, new house, great exam results etc., but equally important are the everyday things like bumping in to a long lost friend, seeing a great sunrise, sharing a joke with someone) write it down on a piece of paper and put it in a jar. Keep filling the jar, and then on New Year's Eve 2016, you can open the jar and go over all the fabulous things that have happened to you in the year!
What does all this come down to? May we pass the mic to the great Aretha Franklin- who's going to argue with her?
We wish you all a fabulous and healthy 2016!
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