Have you set any New Year’s resolutions? Whatever your goals are for 2019, you’re more likely to accomplish them if you’re feeling strong, healthy, and focused. A new year is the perfect time to set new intentions and create new habits. Get the year off to a positive start by taking the following steps:

1. Make better food choices. Instead of resolving to start a temporary diet, consider making permanent changes to the way you eat. Try the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish. It includes moderate amounts of cheese and wine, while limiting red and processed meats. There are many benefits to eating this way, such as a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, breast cancer, colorectal cancer, diabetes, obesity, and depression. For more tips on eating healthy, read our recent article about nutrition.

2. Be more active. Exercise has been called a “miracle cure,” and this New York Times piece outlines its many positive effects on the body and mind. You don’t have to train for a marathon or live at the gym to experience these benefits—taking brisk walks is enough. Set a goal of exercising 150 minutes per week, or about 30 minutes every weekday.

3. Reduce your stress. As this Mayo Clinic page explains, stress can cause headaches, anxiety, sleep problems, and depression, among other things. Find a healthy way to let go of the stress in your life, and make that habit part of your routine. Try a yoga class. Take a long walk. Practice meditation. Even controlled breathing can help lower your stress level.

4. Connect with friends. Close relationships make life more enjoyable, and they can also make people healthier. Social isolation can disrupt sleep patterns, weaken immune systems, increase inflammation and raise levels of stress hormones. A new report in the New England Journal of Medicine confirmed that friends provide essential health support. As you make healthy choices this year, talk to friends about them, so they can encourage you—or even join you.

5. Focus on staying well. Many people take their health for granted until they discover a problem, but regular wellness visits and screenings can catch potential problems early. If it has been a while, or if you can’t remember when you last had your blood pressure and cholesterol checked, make this the year you get things back on track. Schedule an appointment with your doctor.

If you’re ready to make your health a priority in 2019, call Better Health Advisors. We will review your health history, and make personalized recommendations to help you stay as healthy as possible. Don’t wait until you get sick to take action.