New Year’s resolutions — do you make the same ones nearly every year? Join a gym! Quit sugar! Stop smoking!
They’re all worthwhile lifestyle changes, but sometimes they can be really hard to stick to.
So, here are some practical New Year’s resolutions that could make a big difference to your health. (And when it comes to smoking, if you still smoke, do yourself a favour and stop.)
1 Make friends with your pharmacist
Local pharmacists do much more than fill prescriptions; they’re qualified health professionals who can offer advice on medicines and general health. Australia’s 5,500 community pharmacists help millions of people every year.
They can help you treat minor illnesses such as coughs and colds, as well as advise on postnatal care, pain management and chronic conditions such as diabetes and asthma. They can treat minor injuries and show you how to apply dressings, provide some vaccinations and test your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.
To find a pharmacist near you, use the healthdirect service finder.
2 Don’t go on a diet
Yes, nearly 2 in 3 Australians are overweight or obese. Yes, carrying extra weight increases your risk of chronic diseases and some cancers. But drinking only lemon juice, or eating only what cavemen supposedly ate, is not the answer.
Fad diets that promote rapid weight loss, but are not based on science, don’t work. To maintain a healthy weight permanently, it’s better to change your eating behaviour and exercise in a way that you can keep up long term.
Slow is best: regular weight loss of initially around 1kg to 4kg per month is likely to be most effective.
3 Get more iron
This year try to consume at least one iron-rich food per day. It’s a small dietary change with big benefits.
Iron is essential to helping carry oxygen around your body so your cells can work properly.
The body can store iron but it can’t make it, so you need to get iron from food. Liver, for example, contains a whopping 11mg of iron per 100g. Lentils and wheat-flakes cereal each contain 7.5mg per 100g. Both animal products and plant-based foods can contain iron, but it’s easier for your body to absorb the iron from animal-based foods.
Of course, liver isn’t for everyone. Find other ways to get more iron in your diet here.
4 Talk about your mental health
Almost half of all Australians aged 16 to 85 will experience a mental disorder at some point in their life. And anyone can feel sad, overwhelmed or stressed at times.
But getting help with mental health issues is easier than you might think. Your GP is often a good place to start and they can provide treatment or refer you to other services if necessary.
Your GP may refer you to a mental health professional such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker or occupational therapist. Under a ‘mental health care plan’, you may be entitled to Medicare rebates for individual or group therapy sessions.
Ask for help — you can find information about where to go for mental health services here. If you are in immediate danger of harming yourself, call triple zero (000) and ask for an ambulance.
5 Read medicines leaflets
Those bits of paper that come in your medicines container are called Consumer Medicine Information leaflets (CMI leaflets) — and it’s a good idea to read them. They’ll help you get the best out of your medicine, tell you what to do if you miss a dose, flag any side effects and warn you about mixing the medicine with particular substances.
If you can’t find the leaflet, you can get your medicine’s CMI by:
- asking your pharmacist or doctor to print it for you
- searching healthdirect's medicines section
- searching the NPS MedicineWise Medicines finder
Talk to your doctor or pharmacist immediately if you still need more information. You have the right to ask questions about any medicines.
6 Give blood
Australia relies on the generosity of people who donate blood. Donated blood is used to help all kinds of people — from pregnant women to road trauma victims to cancer patients.
Currently, only 1 in 30 people donate blood, but 1 in 3 will need blood at some point in their lives.
Most healthy adults aged 18 to 70 can give blood. To find out whether you’re eligible to donate and to book an appointment, visit the Australian Red Cross Blood Service. It takes about an hour to give blood, so it could be the easiest New Year’s resolution you’ll ever keep.
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For health and wellbeing news you can use, go to the healthdirect blog.