Another year means another resolution

Improve your health... not only physically, but mentally

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Now that the holidays are behind us, it's time to kick into your New Year's resolution! …so does 1) "eat healthier" and 2) "exercise more" look familiar? I'm sure it has been on your New Year's resolution list for the last couple years. Especially the older we get. In fact, almost a third of all Americans who make New Year's Resolutions circle around eating habits, losing weight, and exercise! And according to a recent study as few as 8% actually will accomplish their New Year's Resolution. The study says to be successful, motivation for a change has to come from personal desire. So, when you sit down to review your resolutions of ultimately being a healthier person overall and how you are going to get there, keep in mind your mental health is just as important (if not more) as your physical. So important, you should want to make sure you get your mind right before getting your body on point!

Mental and physical health have recently been the center of health insurance marketing campaigns. Most recently, a health insurance company has pumped out a ton of commercials with TV celebrities, encouraging people to take care of their health. Their website not only talks about dietary dangers, but mental health and self-improvement. National Alliance of Mental Illness, over 40 million US adults will experience a mental illness in a year. There are so many mental stressors that can affect your mental health, that's why it is so important to take note of these few simple ideas.

1) Meditate- Whether it's 1 minute or 1 hour, give yourself some "me" time to close your eyes and relax. Research shows how meditation can reduce your stress levels.

2) Sleep- Make sure to get 7-8 hours of good sleep a night. "The top way to improve sleep is to have a consistent bed time and awake time," says Patricia Thornton, a psychologist in New York City. "Don't sleep in on weekends. Don't try to catch up on sleep with naps." You should strive for a consistent seven to eight hours a night. "That will go a long way to helping people feel better," she explains.

3) Stretch- Keep young! Regular stretching improves your health, while protecting you from aches, pains, and strains you would potentially if you didn't stretch!

4) Relax and get off your phone- Become more aware of your surroundings and be present!

  • Don't go down a rabbit hole getting caught up in social media
  • Work emails can just add stress also
  • So if you are going to be on your phone, do get "brain" apps. There are all kind of brain training games you can download, that will help your brain stay alert and be active.

5) Physical health – Tons of research prove that exercise is good for mental health. 30 minutes of exercise a day can also help lower the risk of depression. Remember to start at your own pace, whether it is walking, or speed walking, whatever it is. And make sure that it is a goal that is attainable and desired to achieve.

Last, don't forget to love yourself, and put YOU first. :)

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and blogger. Check out her new blog, HTown Run Tourist. Follow her on Twitter @jovanabernathy. Instagram @HTownRunTourist. Facebook @jovanabernathy. Join her facebook group: H-Town Run Tourist

Six years ago, I got this great idea to become a tourist of Houston on foot. I had no idea what I was doing or where it was going. All I knew was to put on my running shoes, walk out the door, and just go. Go learn, go talk, go ask without judgements. What I found is that Houston was full of diversity. We all knew that. However, let yourself be immersed in it. Look and listen to the sounds of different languages being spoken around you. Smell the scents of the different cuisines. You would think you were in a foreign country. This made me more curious.

As I explored the emotion of curiosity, it led me to change my behavior. Where I might have rushed to this place and to the next, I took it slower. Where, usually, I would have just assumed that I already knew, I found myself asking more questions. When I asked more questions, I had to acknowledge that I did not already know, so I practiced listening. As I listened more, I felt compelled to show more appreciation to the person who interrupted their busy day to educate me. This made me feel grateful.

I took that gratitude and wanted to share with others. It blew my mind when people would say that they hated Houston. It was boring. The people are mean and it was ugly. And even more shocking was Houston is not walkable. Instead of getting offended, I decided to do my part in brightening up the day of the Houstonians who were stuck in a rut. Who saw and did the same things day after day. I didn't judge because I knew they could get out of that rut by simply deciding that today they do something different. I braced myself for rejection, but put myself out there to share the wonderful things that I had learned about Houston. Given the chance, the vast majority, was ready to learn a different way. This made me proud.

It is true that 2020 has been full of disasters. These are opportunities if we choose to see them that way. If anything that COVID-19 taught me the answer was not MORE, but it is LESS. We have the tendency to take on too much, we had the unique opportunity to take on less. Thus, instead of going to exhaustion, we had the opportunity to rest.

Then, the tragedy of the death of Houston's own George Floyd happened. It could not have happened at a worse time. My heart goes out to his family. Some might use it as an opportunity to work out their own frustrations by causing more problems with violence and looting. My hope is that whatever happens will be an expression of appropriate sadness, but with Houston's best attributes; curiosity, gratitude, and pride. Instead of LESS it is time for MORE. MORE curiosity. To see if Houston's law enforcement cares about the well-being of Houston's black community and make changes in protocols. MORE gratitude. For the opportunity to express the frustration in a peaceful way. MORE pride. To not destroy this city and give it over to violence possibly doing more damage to the economics of business owners. We can see this as the opportunity to take time to heal.

Houston has changed. As I restart my exploration, I'm not looking for LESS. I'm looking for MORE this time. I'm looking with MORE curiosity. Because I know that we have even MORE to show each other. I'm looking with MORE gratitude because we have endured so much already and there are better times ahead. And, I'm looking with MORE pride because just as we did it before, we still have it in us to do it again. I have one request: if you see me in the streets, promise me that you will say hello.

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