New Resolutions for a Healthier 2020
Small Resolutions Can Have a Big Impact on Your Health
With 2020 just around the corner, it’s time to consider making a few New Year’s resolutions. Making New Year’s resolutions can help you remember what’s important in your life and they help you set positive goals for the future.
Here, Dr. Cathy Kim shares five ideas for resolutions that will help you get off to a healthier start in 2020:
Get Enough Sleep and Quit Using Electronics Before Bedtime
Americans don’t prioritize sleep as much as they should. The National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep in America poll for 2018 found that only 10 percent of American adults prioritize sleep over other parts of their daily lives including their jobs, social lives, fitness, eating habits and personal interests. Getting enough sleep and high-quality sleep is essential for good health, yet millions of adults and children don’t get either. Inadequate sleep can also be connected to a host of health-related difficulties, says the National Sleep Foundation.
Resolve to improve your sleeping habits and get more Zzzs. Here’s one way: enact a “digital curfew” on everyone in the household; in other words, no using electronics in the hour before everyone goes to bed. Why? Using technology at night makes it harder to settle down to sleep, according to research. Not only are electronics likes tablets and laptops physiologically and psychologically stimulating, but the blue light they emit can delay the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, make you more alert, and mess with the body’s internal clock (circadian rhythm). Search for “Night Shift” on Apple devices and “Night Mode” on Android phones to learn how to set the backlight to change automatically at the hours you choose.
Use Electronics Less, It’s Hurting Your Neck
It’s not just at bedtime that electronics can hurt you. “From a purely physical standpoint, when people use their smartphones a lot, their head is down, hurting the neck and posture,” says Dr. Cathy Kim from the Community Memorial Health System Centers for Family Health and founder of Integrative Body Medicine, her private practice in Camarillo.
“I am concerned that there will be a whole generation of young people with neck problems,” Dr. Kim says. “I have seen children, ages pre-K to teenagers, coming in for symptoms related to their necks being bent for long periods.” Resolve to cut back on the electronics and hold your phone or device closer to eye level.
Reduce Alcohol Consumption
“Drinking too much alcohol means taking in a lot of extra calories, and drinking can be habit forming,” says Dr. Kim. “If you regularly drink more than a glass of wine at night, ask yourself if you are using alcohol to self-medicate.” Resolve to cut back on the alcohol and deal directly with stress or anxiety or the underlying issue that is leading to excessive alcohol consumption. Dr. Kim also notes that a glass of wine daily with no other changes can make you gain 10 pounds in a year!
“It’s vital to strive for balance and boundaries in your life,” says Dr. Kim. “Pay attention to yourself and what’s important.” Resolve to read a book or listen to a podcast by someone who inspires you to hear their coping tips or advice, or meditate (find a good meditation App). Avoid taking on too much by learning to say “no” to others so you don’t get overwhelmed. If you find it hard to say “no” when asked to volunteer again, respond that you have to first check your calendar; this way you won’t get swept away on the spot and say “yes” right away when asked. Resolve to preserve time for yourself!
Spend an hour each day doing what you want: exercising, taking a walk, enjoying a hobby or reading. At the office, set boundaries so your lunch break is your own time; in the evenings, let others know you don’t respond to emails after 7 p.m. The smartphone has blurred boundaries between work and personal time for many people, so resolve to take steps to protect your personal time boundaries.
Avoid Chemical Exposure as Much as Possible
It’s important to eat healthy, but unfortunately that also means reducing the toxins you may be absorbing from your food, the containers, and your environment. Rising rates of dementia, cancer and autoimmune diseases are being linked to lifestyle chemical exposures. Resolve to look into helpful resources such as websites or books like, “Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?” by Mark Hyman, MD, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine. Or, visit the Environmental Working Group online, a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to empowering people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.