heartNew Year’s resolutions fell by the wayside weeks ago (do you still do that?) and the cold and flu season has gripped the country in a vise that has been hard to shake. This time of year, the effort to live a healthy and balanced life can seem like a losing battle.

Hey, don’t give up! Daffodils are sprouting. Spring is on its way. February is heart health month and Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to re-ignite your passion for health and wellness and commit to falling in love with feeling good.

Embrace Endorphins

The CDC recommends at least 150 minutes of moderately intense activity each week to maintain heart health. This could be something as simple as a 30-minute walk five days a week, 50 minutes of exercise three days a week, or something more adventurous like an afternoon sledding, climbing a rock wall or other physical activity to release endorphins that will put you in a state of post-workout bliss. The brain’s feel-good chemical is free — it costs no money and reduces the perception of pain and leaves you feeling gooood. Added benefits of getting yourself into an exercise routine:

  • Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Boosts self-esteem
  • Better sleep

What’s not to love about that?

Healthy Weight, Healthy You

Comfort food in the cold, chicken noodle soup for the sickly — it’s easy to use those ol’ seasonal standbys as a crutch this time of year. You don’t need to embrace a fad diet, commit to a pricey drink, or pop a magic pill (as tempting as that may be), to achieve a healthy weight. Get back to the basics: a variety of fruits and vegetables (three to five servings a day), lean protein (two to three servings a day), whole grains (six to 11 servings a day), and low-fat dairy (two to three servings a day) are still the gold standard. Added benefits of maintaining — or getting to, a healthy weight:

  • Lowers the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure
  • Increases energy levels
  • Boosts self-esteem
  • Better sleep
  • Optimizes your immune system

Get Your Zzzzzz’s

There are plenty of reasons to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night beyond increased energy and better-looking skin. Did you know sleep and metabolism are controlled by the same section of the brain? The hormones affected during sleep also drive appetite. Studies show people who sleep less are hungrier and eat more. Added benefits of getting enough sleep:

  • Improves memory
  • Improves mood
  • Improves immune system and protects your health

Prevent and Protect

In the spirit of the month, spread love, not germs. Cold and flu season is still upon us, so don’t let your guard down. Protect yourself by eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep and making these cold and flu prevention basics your standard:

  • Wash hands often
  • Avoid close contact when you or someone you know is sick
  • Get your flu vaccine, available at American Family Care

Grateful and Giving

The “helper’s high” and the benefits of being grateful are two of the most overlooked healthy habits around. According to A 2012 study, grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and also enjoy improved psychological health. Getting into the habit of giving also lowers blood pressure, stress, and leads to greater happiness. Added health benefits of being grateful and giving:

  • Improved sleep
  • Improved self-esteem
  • Increased mental strength

Putting It All Together

When you consider how intertwined your physical, mental, and psychological health can be, what’s stopping you from jump-starting a love affair with yourself? Once you put just one of these tips into practice, it will be that much easier for you to start adding in others until you feel you are truly living your best, healthiest life.

American Family Care is committed to helping you stay on a healthy track, whether it is walking into one of our clinics, with no appointment needed, to treat a non-life threatening illness, or providing preventative care in the form of vaccines, screenings or simply a physical exam.

Don’t put it off…start falling in love with feeling good today!