Itís the start of a new year. Many of us are taking down holiday decorations and getting our houses back in order. The children are going back to school. Now that we have dodged the December 21 end-of-the-world scenario, itís time to plan for 2013.
For those of us in healthcare, itís an opportunity to reevaluate our careers and personal lives. Do we want to go back to school, study for a new certification, and/or evaluate our current position?
Personally, itís a good time to evaluate our own physical health. Do we have a healthy weight, or do we need to lose a few pounds? Are we current on mammograms, Pap smears, and vaccines? When was your last colonoscopy?
This is also a good time to help our patients evaluate their healthcare regimens. What can we in healthcare do to help our patients plan for a new healthier and happier new year?
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the top ten New Yearís resolutions for 2012 are:
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Save more, spend less
- Enjoy life to the fullest
- Stay healthy and fit
- Learn something exciting
- Quit smoking
- Help others in their dreams
- Fall in love
- Spend more time with family
Statistically, 45 percent of Americans make New Yearís resolutions. Forty-seven percent of resolutions involve self-improvement or education. Weight, money, and relationship resolutions are 38 percent, 34 percent, and 31 percent, respectively.
Of course, how long a resolution will last varies with commitment. Seventy-five percent are maintained through the first week. By the end of two weeks, 71 percent are still keeping their resolutions. Past six months, less than half of the resolutions continue.
Why do resolutions fail?
Our brains are wired for habits. Pleasurable habits such as eating, alcohol, or smoking causes the release of dopamine in the brain, which gives our body good feelings. This makes habits very difficult to break. Imagine every time we use a habit, we etch a groove into the brain. Overtime, the groove gets so deep itís almost impossible to erase. So in the end, our own brain sabotages our strongest resolutions.
How to overcome bad habits
The best way to get rid of a bad habit is by repeating healthy behaviors in order to rewire the brain.
The AARP Health has some helpful suggestions.
- Figure out your trigger. Example: Sitting in front of the TV eating a big bowl of ice cream every night after dinner.
- Find a replacement habit. Instead of sitting in front of the TV for three hours eating ice cream, replace the habit with going for a walk in the evening.
- Look to the future. As you are going for your evening walk, visualize how you are going to look and feel when it comes time for bathing suit season.
- Keeps the good habit going for three weeks. It takes three weeks to learn a new habit.
- Get support. Do not walk alone. Get a family member, neighbor, or friend to walk with you.
- Exercise. Exercise on a regular basis raises the level of the protein BDNF. This protein encourages the growth of new neurons, which are essential in rewiring the brain.
Thereís an app for that
So we decided on several resolutions. What else can we do to keep our resolutions? Well, there are some very good apps for that.
- Fitocracy is a fitness app. It uses social tools and games to make working out easier.
- Lose It! is a great app for keeping track of calorie intake and diet. My daughter is using this and has lost 20 pounds in three months.
- Snapguide: If your goal is to learn a little something new each day, then this is the app for you.
- My Last Cigarette helps users quit smoking by mapping out the changes in their health as they quit. You enter your smoking habits and the app will keep you informed on how you are bettering your life through quitting.
- Betterment is a decrease debt and save money app. After signing up with an account, users can check the balance, composition, and returns of their investment portfolios in real time.
- National Geographic Traveler Magazine: If travel is one of your resolutions, this is the app for you. This app includes maps, photo galleries, and even 360-degree photos. Users will have access to travel tips and live feeds.
So whether your New Yearís resolution is to lose weight, quit smoking, or learn new things, remember take slow, deliberate steps (Rome was not built in a day). When you fall, pick yourself up, forgive yourself, and keep on going. But whatever you do, have fun with it!
- Lennox, Doug (2007). Now You Know Big Book of Answers. Toronto: Dundurn. p. 250. ISBN 1-55002-741
- Julia Jasmine (1998). Multicultural Holidays. Teacher Created Resources. p. 116. ISBN 1-55734-615-1.
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