Countless central Ohioans will be making New Year’s resolutions next month pledging to exercise more, eat better or lose weight.
But experts say other, less tangible goals are also important, like finding the right work-life balance, reducing stress, prioritizing mental health, or quitting bad habits like smoking or binge drinking. alcohol.
“I wish stress reduction came up more” in conversations with patients, said Jennifer Middleton, family physician for OhioHealth. “I think prioritizing mental health is something a lot of us overlook.”
Achieving these unconventional resolutions, however, is neither easy nor straightforward.
The path to better mental health or a life with fewer destructive habits may depend on the individual, but experts say there are a few good ways to start.
And they emphasized that a healthy life begins with a healthy mind.
“If your sanity isn’t optimized, it’s much harder to succeed in other areas,” Middleton said. “If you want to quit smoking, if you want to eat healthier, first you have to be in a place where you’re able to think things through and make good decisions.”
The first step to achieving a goal is understanding what you really want, experts say.
A New Year’s resolution to eat well and exercise, for example, probably has more to do with a healthier lifestyle.
“If you don’t have a clear idea of why, it can be difficult to sustain the effort to make any kind of change,” said Jennifer Middleton, a family physician at OhioHealth.
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Motivation is another important piece of the puzzle. When patients come to Middleton with resolutions or goals, “one of the first things I will do is try to gauge how confident they are that they can make the change, and how is important to them that they make the change,” she said.
The answers give doctors the information they need to develop a personalized plan.
“You have to make sure people are really ready to make the change before you do any specific planning,” she said.
For many people, finding the underlying reasons for problematic behaviors is a key first step, Middleton said.
If a patient can say “here are some places that make me want to smoke a cigarette or make me want to have a drink again, they already have a plan to help them succeed,” she said.
In terms of reducing stress or improving mental health, people need to identify the facets of their work and family life that cause stress in the first place, Middleton said.
“Understanding the things that are stressful first helps us adapt our strategies better,” she said.
The doctor said she also asks patients what they’ve tried in the past and determines why those strategies didn’t work and what tactics might work better.
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Regan Walsh, a business and career coach based in the Short North, says there’s one tactic that can both reduce stress and improve your productivity: work breaks.
Countless research pages show that workers are more productive if they take full lunch breaks or short breaks regularly throughout the day.
“People who play regularly will be more creative, more invigorated and more efficient,” she said.
Walsh also stressed the importance of getting out of a regular routine and doing something spontaneous.
Such excursions can be small, like a 15-minute walk in the middle of the day.
But Walsh also remembers a weekend at King’s Island amusement park near Cincinnati after a particularly stressful week at work.
“It was one of the happiest days, and just breaking the cycle gave us so much of our lives back,” she said.
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