Another year brings new opportunities and ways to improve your health and happiness. Small changes can significantly impact how you feel mentally and physically. Follow these tips for improving your health and happiness—it’s as easy as baking a cake!

Prep your pan: Increase your physical activity

It’s not shocking that regular exercise is vital to improving health and happiness. What’s good for the body is also good for the mind. According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, regular physical activity is linked to improved brain health and cognitive function, reduced risk of anxiety and depression and improved sleep and overall quality of life.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Here are a few easy ways to fit more movement into your day:

  • Take a walk during your lunch break.
  • Park at the back of the parking lot.
  • Skip the elevator and take the stairs.
  • Take an exercise class with a friend.


Mix butter and sugar: Quit unhealthy habits

In 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated 30.8 million adults in the U.S. regularly smoke cigarettes. Smoking harms nearly every organ of the body. According to the CDC, smoking causes cancer, heart disease, stroke, lung diseases, diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

It’s never too late to quit smoking, and the benefits of quitting are endless. If you’re struggling, try these tips:

  • Try nicotine replacement therapy.
  • Avoid triggers—areas or situations where you typically smoke, such as a bar.
  • Chew gum to help resist cravings.
  • Practice meditation and deep breathing when stressed.
  • When you have cravings, get active.
  • Join an online support group.
  • Call 800-QUIT-NOW.


Combine dry ingredients: Stay social

Did you know that an active social life can improve your immune system, memory and cognitive skills and decrease feelings of depression? Since COVID-19, many people have struggled with returning to a normal social life. Stay connected and boost your social engagement by:

  • Video chat with friends or family you don’t see often.
  • Walk through your neighborhood and chat with people you meet.
  • Sign up for a class at your local recreation facility.
  • Volunteer at a local charity.
  • Play a group sport like golf or pickleball.


Combine wet and dry ingredients: Prioritize self-care

Between work, family and social obligations, self-care often gets put on the backburner. But setting time aside to do something you enjoy is critical for your health. Engaging in a self-care routine has proven to reduce feelings of depression, anxiety and stress, and increase feelings of happiness.

Self-care looks different for everyone, but here are a few examples of how you can prioritize your personal time:

  • Watch your favorite movie.
  • Take a long bath or shower.
  • Make your favorite meal.
  • Go for a walk or hike.
  • Listen to a podcast.
  • Create something—draw, paint, write.
  • Practice gratitude by writing down five things you’re thankful for.


Add your batter to the pan: Eat well

A well-balanced diet can do wonders for your overall well-being. Sometimes, it’s tempting to just grab whatever’s quickest and most convenient, even if it’s not the healthiest option. But if you eat well, you’ll feel better! The USDA’s MyPlate Plan will show you a specific food plan based on your individual needs, but a generally well-balanced diet includes:

  • A majority of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk products.
  • A variety of different proteins like seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes, soy products, nuts and seeds.
  • Limited added sugars, sodium, trans fats, saturated fats and cholesterol.


Bake your cake: Get enough sleep

Like personal time, sleep is often one of the elements of life people sacrifice when busy or overwhelmed. But the fact is you need good quality sleep to be your healthiest and most productive self. Improve your sleep routine by:

  • Setting and sticking to a consistent wake/sleep schedule.
  • Reduce caffeine, nicotine and alcohol intake.
  • Avoid electronic use two to three hours before bed.
  • Ensure your sleep environment is quiet, dark and free of distractions.
  • Keep naps to 30 minutes or less during the day.

If you consistently have trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor.


Decorate and enjoy: Visit your doctor

An annual wellness visit to your Wellstar primary care provider is one of the most important things you can do for your health. During these visits, your primary care provider will conduct preventative screenings that help catch major diseases early and prevent chronic conditions. You can also discuss your family health history and risk factors, so your provider knows how to monitor your health moving forward.

Book your wellness visit today by selecting the “Book Now! Find care near you” banner at the top of your screen.