10 simple ways to improve your health and wellness this year

improve your health and wellness

Improve Your Health and Wellness in this year

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, even some of the most earnest efforts tend to fall by the wayside by about mid-January.

“Just like many Christmas presents, resolutions grow less and less interesting over time — and even take the appearance of a chore,” says Mike Reid, senior manager of health and wellness solutions at Pacific Blue Cross. “We all lead very busy lives with varying distractions. Generally, this means that we let our own personal health take a backseat.”

If this all sounds familiar, 2020 could be your year to make health-oriented goals stick, with the added incentive of a healthy cash prize.

Related: Heart Health: Follow These Expert Diet

The 2020 Pacific Blue Cross Health Challenge is a simple and fun way for people all over B.C. to make lasting changes. Just by choosing to make a healthy goal, participants will be entered to win $2,020 in health cash, money that can be put toward whatever helps them stay healthy, whether it’s a new bike, gym membership, or the smoothie maker of your dreams.

Taking part in the challenge will help people keep to their resolutions in a few ways. Setting a realistic goal and sharing it with friends and family has been shown to encourage people to stay on track. Plus, throughout the challenge, participants will receive tips and tricks on how to achieve their healthy aim.

And there’s just as much focus on people’s mental well-being as physical wellness.

“Pacific Blue Cross recognizes the important role mental health plays in a person’s overall health,” he adds. “Good mental health can ensure good sleep, good relationships, lower stress levels, and higher levels of overall happiness. Mental and physical health should be looked at together for total health. Focus on making small changes that have big benefits.”

Once you’ve entered the Health Challenge, here are 10 other simple ways to improve your health and wellness.

Exercise 30 minutes a day

This doesn’t have to be all in one chunk; you can break it up into three 10-minute segments and still get the benefits of a walk, run, or other activity you enjoy. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines suggest at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise per week and muscle and bone-strengthening activities at least twice a week.

Eat more veggies

Vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals and fibre. Eating a variety daily helps reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. Load up your plate with the colours of the rainbow, like red peppers, yellow zucchini, green kale and purple cabbage. If you’re a voracious carnivore, consider introducing Meatless Mondays to boost your intake of plant-based foods.

Get better night’s sleep

We all know how terrific we feel after a good night’s sleep. Proper Zzzs help boost brain function, emotional well-being, and immune functioning. To improve your snooze, use the hour before bedtime for quiet time without screens; avoid heavy meals before bed; and keep your bedroom cool, quiet and dark.

Achieve or maintain a healthy weight

Having an optimal weight reduces the chances of developing chronic disease. Make small changes so the goal doesn’t seem so overwhelming. Drink water instead of juice or pop, for instance, and move more by parking a further distance from a store entrance or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

Laugh more

It’s no joke: laughter improves our well-being. It’s been shown to boost immunity, relieve stress, relax muscles, and relieve pain. Watch a comedy, go to a stand-up show, connect with friends who make you laugh, host a game night, or check out the humour section at a bookstore or library.

Reduce alcohol consumption

Even amid the holiday season, there are ways to curb drinking: pick a few days of the week that will be alcohol-free; keep a drinking diary; sip slowly, and drink at least one glass of water or soda after a spiked beverage.

Practice gratitude

Taking time to reflect on all the goodness in your life is a sure-fire way to lift your mood and energy. Consider writing down specific things you’re grateful for — the hug from your child before school or the coffee your co-worker bought for you.

Stop smoking

Cigarette smoking can be a hard habit to break, but stopping will ultimately make you feel healthier than ever. Consider picking a quit day and telling friends and family about it to help you stay on track. Join a stop-smoking group. Ask those you are close to not to smoke around you. Stock up on oral substitutes like gum, toothpicks and stir sticks.

Handle stress better

Set aside even five minutes daily for deep breathing; have a hot bath; make time for hobbies; and be kind to yourself.

Say no

Put yourself first by saying no to things that will only make your busy schedule unmanageable.