This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Wednesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.
We’re now two weeks into 2015. How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? Maybe some readers have stuck with their plans and are now two weeks closer to a new, improved habit. To them, we say “Keep up the good work.”
Others may have forgotten about their resolutions or given up after early setbacks, and we encourage those who may have experienced frustrations to give those goals another look. Still others may have foregone making a resolution altogether, but it’s not too late to decide to make a positive, healthy change. We have included some tips to help you stick with new habits, whether they are New Year’s Resolutions or not.
Time and place are important to forming a habit. To maximize your chances of success when adding a new behavior like going for a walk each day, repeat the same action at the same time and the same place, until it becomes automatic. Once you have formed the association between the setting and the action in your mind, it’s much easier to carry out your plan, even when other obstacles, like being tired or distracted, get in the way.
If, on the other hand, you’re trying to eliminate a negative behavior, like smoking, it’s important to figure out your cue. Rather than trying to quit cold turkey, try to figure out what’s triggering the need for a cigarette. Do certain situations ignite the urge to light up? If you can identify the things that make you want to smoke, you can improve your chances for quitting by avoiding those triggers. Cigarettes are addictive in their own right, but for many people, identifying and avoiding trigger situations can help their quit attempt to be more successful.
Even though it may not seem like it when your alarm goes off at 5 a.m. reminding you of your new habit to go to the gym before work, it’s easier to form a new habit than break an old one. If you are in the routine of hitting the snooze button, rolling over, and going back to sleep, fight the urge by making it a positive experience to get up instead. Make a plan to help your new habit stick, like recruiting a friend to join you while you work out, which also adds accountability.
It’s not too late to exercise more, eat healthier, or lose weight. There’s still time to resolve to put down the phone while you’re driving, quit using tobacco or other drugs, or spend more time with friends. People fail at New Year’s Resolutions for many reasons. Maybe you just get too busy, maybe you get discouraged, but maybe you just don’t know where to begin. Pick one change, and then stick to it. Even if you haven’t been successful so far, there’s still hope. Today is a great day to start.
For more information about Health Department services, check out our website at www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or visit us on Facebook at Carson City Health and Human Services.