Resolve to keep your other resolutions by caring for yourself first
Many of the best New Year’s resolutions are never followed through on. Life offers a lot of resistance when we try to change deeply ingrained habits. We want to improve ourselves for the benefit of those we love, but it’s difficult when we don’t feel well or lack energy. That’s why the most important thing you can do in life is to take good care of yourself.
That sounds awfully selfish, doesn’t it? If you’ve flown on a major commercial airline in the past half-century, you’re probably familiar with the idea that if the oxygen masks drop, you’re supposed to put yours on first before helping anyone else. You’re told for good reason to do this—if you’re incapacitated, you can’t help anybody, including yourself. Although taking care of yourself sounds obvious, it sometimes takes a conscious effort.
Possibly the best thing you can do is to adopt a lifestyle that includes a healthy diet and regular exercise. Crash diets don’t last, and fitness requires being active.
Healthy eating consists of fresh, quality ingredients. Spend more time in parts of the grocery store where you can see the actual food rather than carefully designed packaging. If you’re short on prep time, cook on the weekends and freeze portions to enjoy later. If you simply can’t cook, a good rule of thumb is to seek out food with real-food ingredients.
Recent studies show that Americans sit too much. Many of us have jobs that place us in a chair for many hours each day. Sitting for long periods puts us at a health risk, so get up and move around once in awhile. The Mayo Clinic recommends aiming for a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Regular exercise can reduce stress and fight depression, and aids in weight loss.
Another part of self care is getting enough sleep. It’s hard for some to get the recommended eight hours per night, but there are ways to improve the quality of sleep. Try going to bed and waking up at the same times each day. A regular sleep schedule is more restful. Take a 20 minute nap when possible to feel energized. If you still don’t feel well rested, talk to your doctor about it.
You’re a busy person, but once you make time to take care of your own mind and body, you’ll have more energy and motivation to conquer life’s responsibilities, and to care for others.
Tips for Better Sleep
The National Institutes of Health website offers smart strategies for getting enough sleep. Some of the tips are easy to manage, even for the busiest insomniacs. Going to bed and waking up at the same time every day and keeping the same schedule on weekends is one way to develop a sustainable sleep-wake rhythm. Try avoiding heavy meals, alcohol, and staring at electronic screens before bed. Check out their well-researched ideas at nhibi.nih.gov.
Food Additives Best Avoided
- Aspartame – Evidence abounds that this artificial sweetener may have neurotoxic, allergenic, and carcinogenic effects.
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup – Found in almost all processed foods in America, it has become the nation’s leading source of calories and contributes to the development of diabetes.
- Sodium Nitrate and Sodium Nitrite – Used as preservatives in processed meats, these improve the color of meat, giving it a bright red appearance. They’re also highly carcinogenic.
- Food Dyes – Certain blue, red, and yellow food dyes—banned in other countries for their carcinogenic qualities—remain on the market and in food in the United States.
- BHA and BHT – Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) appear in many brands of breakfast cereal, snack foods, and cooking oils. They are carcinogenic oxidants used as color and flavor preservatives.
By Steve Howell