Imagine if you were advising a college student before he or she returns to school after winter break. Sure, we get two to three weeks to celebrate winter events with our families, and many of us spend too much on the season. When January comes around, it’s time to tackle New Year’s resolutions. College students will hit the books and count down the days to their spring break. The rest of us will return to work and hope we can make it into February with good personal habits. Let 2018 be the year of moderation and making time for your needs. Here are five tips to help you along the way to well-being:
1. Focus on moderation. This can benefit you in terms of how you treat your body, how you spend your money, and how you view the progress you make throughout the year towards personal and professional goals. For young adults, it’s a time of life when their bodies can endure much more punishment (i.e. sleep deprivation and over-indulging in alcohol, food, or tobacco) than older adults. However, all bad habits eventually catch up with you.
2. Avoid stressful situations. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Stress is a condition that is often characterized by symptoms of physical or emotional tension. It is a reaction to a situation where a person feels threatened or anxious. Stress can be positive (e.g., preparing for a wedding) or negative (e.g., dealing with a natural disaster).” While we may have relationships that are important to us, they may be the cause of too much stress. It may be better for our well-being to place more boundaries on stressful relationships. For some of us, it could be talking a friend or a loved one into getting professional treatment so we aren’t the only ones supporting them while they face personal issues.
3. Be your own coach or hire one. Some people know that motivation is a problem, and they decide to invest in the advice of someone who can help them overcome specific obstacles. Many of us will try something like Phone-A-Doctor or Phone-A-Pharmacist when we’re sick. Maybe we need to hire a life coach and map out a new life plan. Guidance is essential for people who are burned out in their careers, who are anxious about retirement, or who have gone through a divorce or the death of a spouse.
4. Take pre-emptive measures with your health. For people over 50, this could mean going in for a colonoscopy, which is something we tend to put off. For people of all ages, it might be adding some comprehensive and alternative medicine (CAM) to your routine. How many of us live with back pain, neck pain, or headaches for days, weeks, or months without seeking medical attention? Getting in to see a physical therapist, a chiropractor, a massage therapist, an acupuncturist, or a podiatrist or joining a yoga class can radically improve your day-to-day health. Alternative medicines take the edge off of common stressors.
5. Cut down on caffeine intake. We read an article from the Journal of Caffeine Research that caffeine is the most widely-used drug worldwide. “In the United States, more than 90% of adults use it regularly, and, among them, average consumption is more than 200 mg of caffeine per day—more caffeine than is contained in two 6-ounce cups of coffee or five 12-ounce cans of soft drinks.” Next time that you’re heading to Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or the office coffee pot, remember this study found that “consumption of higher doses [of caffeine] by vulnerable individuals can lead to increased risk for negative health consequences, including cardiovascular problems and perinatal complications.”
To maintain a healthier lifestyle in 2018, please make time for yourself. Get to the gym, get seven to eight hours of sleep a night, schedule vacations, and spend time with loved ones and friends. Find a hobby that you enjoy so you can look forward to it when you feel stressed at work. Try a meditation app that will help you set a purpose for work each day. Life is too short to sweat the small stuff!
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Tips for Coping With Stress.
Journal of Caffeine Research. Caffeine Use Disorder: A Comprehensive Review and Research Agenda.