Each year, we spend New Year’s Day resolving to improve mind, body and spirit.
However, in most cases, those resolutions are often broken, forgotten and shelved for yet another year before the holiday lights even come down.
So, this year, why not get a head’s start on make better choices before the New Year arrives?
Below are some helpful tips from Valley health leaders on how to get a jump start while the holidays are still in full swing:
Decrease Risk of Silent Nights
“Resolve to make your ears a part of your yearly physical exam,” says Sherri Collins, executive director of Arizona Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. “General practitioners will check your eyes, heart and blood pressure, but they do not normally perform hearing tests. This could prevent furthering any existing hearing loss.”
She adds to also turn down excess noise this holiday season and beyond. According to Collins, 15 percent of individuals aged 20-69 have some degree of hearing loss that may have been caused by exposure to loud noises.
Increase Talk Time
“The holidays are the perfect time to create healthy communication in your family by talking regularly with your kids about finals, school recess plans, social life, goals and peer-pressure,” says Leslie Bloom of DrugFreeAz.org. “Children who regularly talk with their parents are 50 percent less likely to use drugs. A great place to start that conversation is around the dinner table together.”
Also, while stocking the cabinets for guests this holiday season, take some time to unstock what you no longer need.
“Use the excuse of holiday guests to go through your medicine cabinet and clear out any unused or expired medicines,” Bloom says. “Check out DrugFreeAz.org/Rx for the best ways to dispose of those unused or expired medicines.”
Decrease Sweets for Your Sweets
In a recent report, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, an Emmy-award winning chief medical correspondent for the Health, Medical & Wellness unit at CNN, reported that according to estimates, nearly 20 percent of the total calories in American diets comes from added sugar via soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, desserts, fruit drinks, ice cream and other candies.
But that is just the beginning.
“Most people don’t realize that diets rich in sugar not only lead to increased risk of diabetes, but also to heart disease and cancer,” says Dr. Coral Quiet of Arizona Breast Cancer Specialists. “Breast and colon cancers have insulin receptors that encourage tumor growth.”
A best bet to optimize health — fight the sugar bug during the holidays.
Increase Pillow Talk
“There will be more than 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer diagnosed this year in the United States alone, making it the third most common cancer in women,” says Dr. Rhianna Meadows of Planned Parenthood Arizona. “The No. 1 risk factor in developing cervical cancer — the human papilloma virus, or HPV.”
With this disease — and most other STDs — easily confused with common ailments in early stages, the only defense is a good offense. The offense: communication.
According to Dr. Meadows, some questions to get started:
- Have you ever been tested for any STDs? If so, which ones?
- Are you involved with anyone else, or when was your last sexual activity?
- I believe in safe sex and condom use, do you?
Decrease the Summer Glow
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 31,000 Arizona residents are diagnosed with skin cancer each year. And not all of them have the hot summer sun to blame.
“This is Arizona — not the Jersey Shore,” says Dr. Gregory Maggass of Arizona Center for Cancer Care. “Simply put, do not step foot in a tanning bed to keep your summer glow this holiday season.”
Each of these early resolutions will make for a very happy — and healthy — New Year, indeed.