Healthy Habits, Healthy Life!
There is something about a New Year that inspires change, renewal and reinvention. “Out with the old and in with the new” is the common refrain this time of year — but change is hard, especially when we are trying to break unhealthy habits. Willpower is an exhaustible resource and the bigger the change you want to make, the more willpower it will take. So, instead of scaling a mountain, start off small and try climbing a hill! Make one healthy change at a time until it becomes a habit. Simplify the healthy change you are trying to make by breaking it down into clear, easy to follow steps. Motivate yourself to stick to the change by reminding yourself daily of all the benefits the change will bring and shape the environment around you so that you make the change as easy as possible.
Let’s take the example of improving sleep quality. The health benefits of a good night’s sleep are well known. Getting a good night’s sleep helps you stay healthy and alert and gives you energy during the day. It also plays a vital role in improving memory and cognition. In our older years, insomnia is common. It can take a long time to fall asleep and stay asleep. Sleep quality can be affected by a myriad of issues including chronic pain issues, anxiety or side effects from medications. Some of these factors can’t always be controlled; but others such as adopting healthy sleep habits or making your environment more conducive to sleep are within your power and can be extremely effective. Start by following a regular sleep schedule and set your alarm to get you up at the same time every day, even on weekends and when you are traveling. Avoid napping in the late afternoons or early evenings by scheduling activities at this time. Make your bedroom more conducive to sleep by using low lighting and keeping the room at a comfortable temperature. Turn the bedroom into a screen free zone and in place of screens, develop a relaxing bedtime routine like reading a book, listening to soothing music or taking a warm bath. Be prepared for relapses but instead of punishing yourself, learn from the failure, acknowledge the reasons that caused it and try again. Good habits are like muscles, they have to be exercised time and time again but when they eventually stick, what a great investment in a healthy aging journey.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year!
Anne C. Sansevero RN, MA, GNP, CCM
Aging Life Care ® Professional
Founder & CEO