How Do I Create a Health Goal?

We all have our own reasons for creating health goals. Perhaps you’ve hit a plateau in your exercise routine or weight management plan. Maybe you’ve been wanting to improve your mental and emotional health. But what do you do if you haven’t created a health goal before? We’re glad you asked! We’ve put together a checklist of simple steps for you to take in order to get started.

 

  1. Visit your doctor. This is to discuss the current state of your health. They may be able to help you prioritize health goals, such as smoking cessation.
  2. Brainstorm options. While any one health goal can have a domino effect on your overall wellbeing (quitting smoking improves lung health but may also improve sleep quality, for example), it may be best to start with one goal instead of overwhelming yourself with lots of options all at once.
  3. Define your “why.” Once you’ve decided on your goal, become crystal clear and specific as to why it matters to you. If it doesn’t matter that much to you, you won’t be nearly as invested, and you won’t stick with it.
  4. Make it reasonable. If your goal is unattainable, you may give up altogether or look to unhealthy tactics in order to achieve it. Make sure it’s realistic and follows the steps stated above.
  5. Be specific. Instead of saying, “This year I want to lose 40 pounds” break it down into specific and actionable steps. Try, “This week I’m going to drink more water and prepare more fruits and vegetables into my meals” or “I’m going to lose one pound this week.” When it seems achievable, you’ll be more empowered.
  6. Set a deadline. You’ll want your deadline to be like your goal—specific, reasonable and attainable. You want to be challenged to reach it, but you also want to set yourself up for success too.
  7. Ask for support. It’s okay to ask for help! Whether you’re looking for an accountability buddy or need medical guidance, asking for help takes courage and strength and shows how important your goal means to you.
  8. Be persistent. Even on the days when you don’t think you can do it, show up for yourself. You’ve created small, actionable steps and every day that you act on them, is a day you move closer to achieving your goal.
  9. Keep track. Whether you create a journal, a diary, a notepad or writing entries on your calendar, keep track of the actions you’re taking towards this goal.
  10. Reward success. Each time you reach a new portion of your goal—celebrate yourself! This reminds you of your “why” and will help keep you motivated.

 

If you’re having trouble defining a goal or the actions needed to attain it, reach out to your primary care provider. At DFD, your health is our number one goal.

Is Stress Harming Your Health?

Not only is stress a nuisance, it’s harmful to your health. Let’s talk about some common causes and treatments so you can be more present for the important things in your life.

What is Stress?

Stress is a natural response made by our central nervous system. Our brain tells our adrenal glands to supply our body with cortisol and sends us into “fight or flight” mode. This response once helped humans evolve and escape danger, but these days it’s causing an epidemic of chronic stress.

 

Did you know? A reported 77% of people experience stress symptoms every day.

 

Is Stress That Bad?

Short answer: yes. Some stress is good say, when you’re taking an exam or public speaking. But chronic stress, stress that is persistent, can exacerbate any present health conditions and potentially cause new ones such as:

  • Breathing conditions like asthma
  • Increase risk of developing type 2 diabetes
  • Upset the digestive system
  • Tighten muscles, particularly shoulders and back causing pain

 

If you don’t treat your stress symptoms, it will begin to harm your health. Constant stress can lead to heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and mental or emotional conditions such as anxiety and depression.

 

What causes stress?

There are different causes to stress: routine stress (work, family, relationships, money) sudden changes (loss of job, having to move, divorce, illness) and traumatic events (natural disasters, war/PTSD, serious accidents).

Everyone’s relationship to stress is different. What is stressful for you may not be to someone else. Trust your feelings and if you’re feeling stressed, seek help.

 

How can I treat stress?

As there are many causes to stress and potential outcomes if untreated, there are many ways it can be treated:

  • Recognize your triggers
  • Take time to truly relax
  • Get active and stay active
  • Eat a nutritious diet consistently
  • Talk with friends or professionals
  • Yoga, meditation, and breathing techniques will lower your heart rate

 

Stress is different for everyone and everyone manages differently. If you need help navigating your life through stress, reach out to your DFD primary care provider to discuss a treatment plan.

5 Tips for a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season

It’s officially the holiday season, meant for celebration, unity, and joy. And yet, it can also bring stress and exhaustion, compromising your physical and mental health. Here are five tips for staying healthy and happy during the holidays.

Keep Moving
You may be too tired from all the shopping or traveling, but it’s important to keep active! Science proves that exercising actually gives us energy by increasing blood flow, improving metabolism and releasing endorphins. If you’re feeling run down, take a walk to see the Christmas lights in your neighborhood, have a dance party while cooking, build a snowman—anything to keep moving. You’ll not only feel better, but you’ll also stay on track to meet your fitness goals.

Prevent Illness
This time of year, we come into contact with lots of people—and lots of germs. In order to stay free from the flu and other illnesses, wash your hands, get a flu vaccine, and stay home if you’re feeling unwell. If anyone you’re visiting is sick, stay away! You don’t want to ruin your holiday celebrations by getting sick.

Eat Well
With all the sweet treats around it’s hard not to indulge. But here’s the thing—it’s okay as long as you don’t overdo it. If you go into the season forbidding yourself to eat anything decadent, you’re bound to give in and over-indulge. Stay hydrated, eat balanced meals (vegetables, fruit, clean proteins and grains), and give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite indulges in moderation.

Pro Tip: Don’t show up to a party hungry! You’ll end up eating more and probably not the healthy stuff.

Lower Stress
By visiting all your loved ones, attending celebrations, and meeting everyone else’s needs, taking care of yourself falls to the wayside. Our mental health is incredibly important and determines how we relate to others, make healthy choices, and handle our emotions. Meditation and breathing exercises are great for immediately reducing the feelings of stress, but any way that you choose to practice self-care will help keep your stress low.

Sleep More
You may be staying up late decorating or wrapping presents but don’t sacrifice a decent night’s sleep just to get things done. A lack of sleep can interfere with blood sugar levels and make you crave high-carb, high-sugar food choices that will derail your healthy eating and exercise routine. Sleep helps your body’s immune system to function properly, fending off germs and illnesses and keeps you well rested to better deal with the tasks ahead.

 

By keeping your health top of mind during this busy time of year, you can truly be present and enjoy spending time with your loved ones. Try to incorporate some—or all—of these lifestyle tips into your routine to stay happy and healthy during the holidays.