An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Well, not exactly. It can help, as what we eat greatly impacts our moods and emotional health, as well as our overall well-being, but the apple in this saying is not what we should concentrate on – it’s the ‘a day’ part, the habit-forming inference.
According to Healthlink B.C.:
‘Building and maintaining healthy habits is a key part of a creating and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. There are many changes you can make depending on what your body needs to get healthy. If you have problems with your lungs or heart, you may wish to find help to quit smoking. If you are overweight you might want to find tips on eating healthy and adding physical activity to your day’.
With September having crept up sneakily, and as we wave goodbye to the beautiful July and August sun, one promise to make yourself this September is to become more habitual in a way that replaces the unhealthy habits with healthy new ones.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Healthy New Habits for September
- Face Fears
An important step in managing anxiety involves facing feared situations, places or objects. It is normal to want to avoid the things you fear. However, according to the online self-help resource, Anxiety BC (2013), ‘avoidance prevents you from learning that the things you fear are not as dangerous as you think’. Similarly researchers at Northwestern University have found that just one positive exposure to a fear had lasting effects in people six months later. Write down the fears that hold you back, whether it is fear of heights, fear of joining a new gym or exercise class or even the fear of public speaking; and identify resources where you can gain the tools to make the first step.
We all know it’s the best medicine, but laughter is also an effective preventative, which, according to an article in Psychology Today titled The Benefits of Laughter (Marano, 2003) “establishes-or restores-a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between people’.” This article also highlights that “laughter in relationships can decline dramatically as people get older”. Change this. Start watching funny movies, read humorous novels, or spend time with people who make you laugh – it’s contagious!
- Become a Pet Person
Scores of studies have shown that people who own pets tend to live longer, happier and healthier lives. In The Role of Pets in Enhancing Human Well-Being: Physiological Effects (Friedman), a study looking at the relationship between pet ownership and cardiovascular health highlighted the positive effect of having a pet. In particular, it found that pet owners were more likely to be alive one year after spending time in a coronary care unit than non-pet owners. While scooping poop may be an annoying task, the unconditional love and often silly behaviours intrinsic to our animal friends’ makes happiness come all too easily. Caring for another is one of the best things for our health.
- Be Adventurous
“Novelty-seeking is one of the traits that keeps you healthy and happy and fosters personality growth as you age,” says C. Robert Cloninger, author of the study Understanding Our Need for Novelty and Change . The study also highlights how being curious about life and the world has helped throughout human history, citing examples of explorers discovering new places and our ancestors learning valuable survival skills. Be adventurous and try something new!
Healthy Habits at UBC
Making changes and adopting new habits is fantastic, but it can also be daunting. Support is available through UBC’s Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). Our EFAP provider, Homewood Health, has a comprehensive and confidential counseling as well as Plansmart and Health Management services as well as a range of e-courses and an extensive online Health Library available to everyone enrolled in the UBC EFAP – so for any changes you feel you’d like to make you can receive up to date advice and trusted, professional information
If you do one thing for your health this month
Finally, keep yourself current on the health and well-being resources and tools available to you by continuing to read our monthly Healthy UBC Newsletter. New behaviours do not have to be radical, so let us help you through our latest health articles, lists of free workshops, EFAP information, health events on- and off-campus, the latest corporate discounts, and much, much more….make it your first step to good health this month!