Compass2018 is here! As we recover from the holiday hams and family gatherings, the New Year brings an opportunity for transformation, improvement and growth. It’s time to shed those bad habits you’ve been clinging to and move forward to a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Even the smallest changes can provide an impact on your mental and physical well-being. This year challenge yourself to incorporate some of these healthy habits into your daily life.

Be proactive about preventive health screenings
Be your own advocate and take charge of your health. Be persistent about communicating with your doctor and knowing that regular health exams and preventive care screenings can protect you against chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, hypertension and diabetes. Talk with your doctor about the appropriate tests and needed check-ups that will help you monitor your health as you get older.

Address addictive behaviors
Addiction can come in many forms. If you’ve tried to quit before and failed, it doesn’t mean success is impossible. The first step is to address that there’s a problem, and then set up an action plan. There are many different treatment options and strategies available. Talk with your doctor and establish the right approach for you.

Self-positivity is key!
One important trick is to list three things that you genuinely like about yourself and say them out loud every day.

Practice self-positivity daily

Mental health is extremely important, especially when 73 percent of Americans exhibit regular signs of depression, anxiety, moodiness and irritability. The best thing you can do is practice self-love and focus on maintaining a positive self-image.

Keep a journal and write down your feelings and goals
Finding a healthy outlet to express yourself can also help improve mental and emotional health. Keep a journal and set aside time to write in it every day. Journaling helps with emotional clarity, stress, anxiety and focuses your perspective.

Learn ways to let things go
To help from bottling up feelings of resentment, anger, sadness or bitterness, it can pay to research some conscious strategies for coping with or withdrawing from negative energy and people. Web resources, friends, support groups and therapists can help. 

Don’t forgo the H20
Make water a regular habit. Ditch the sugary sodas and juices and make good old H20 your choice of beverage. Hard pressed to give up the soda? Establish this routine with fruit-infused water by adding lemon, cucumber, or your favorite berries.

Dr. Ronald Fong Go old school with eating – get back to the basics
"If your grandparents lived a long and healthy life, chances are that they ate simply. This means limiting packaged, processed, or already prepared foods. Focus on foods that you can pick off a tree or harvest from a garden. Less is more when it comes to food preparation."
— Ronald Fong, M.D., M.P.H., a clinical professor in UC Davis Health’s Department of Family and Community Medicine

Break up with salt
Dumping sodium can help lower blood pressure, increase heart health and lead to weight loss. 75 percent of food contains sodium, and it is often heavily saturated in products such as cheese, seafood, beans, condiments and canned foods. Checking labels, leaving the salt shaker off the table and cooking with other spices are small steps that can impact a healthy habit.

Devote 30-60 minutes to play each day
Be active! Physical activity is essential to a healthy lifestyle and incorporating at least 30-60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and high blood pressure. Take a hike, go for a bike ride or play at the park with your kids. Click here for active family ideas.

Take a digital detox
Studies have shown that social media can be linked to mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, poor cognition skills and decreased social skills. Make a habit of shutting down electronics during dinner, after work, during social hours with friends and on the weekends.

Laugh more
Laughter really is the best medicine. Laughing acts as a stress reliever, stimulates the heart and lungs, and releases endorphins – the pleasure sensors in the brain. Laughter can also help with muscle relaxation, boost the immune system, relieve pain and improve your mood.

Start a nighttime routine and get plenty of rest
Establish a sleeping plan and mimic those patterns before bed every night. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day; practice non-stimulating activities before bed such as reading or listening to music; make sure the temperature in the bedroom is set to a comfortable degree; disconnect from electronics an hour or two before bed and avoid checking email and social media.

Soak up some sun
Sunshine increases serotonin levels and provides our bodies with Vitamin D, a calcium mineral that supports healthy bone growth. However, be safe in the sun. Make sure to apply sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 to protect your skin from exposure.

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