Beyond New Year’s resolutions: Eight tips for lasting self care . . .

Since the contagiousness of Omicron has most of us working from home and limiting our exposure to the rest of the world, fewer of us may have formed  New Year’s resolutions than in pre-Covid years. Or at least from a recent headcount at my local gym, I can report that only three or four new athletes have shown up on or since January 3rd

And yet the topic of self-care has never been more important than in these pandemic days. Online newspaper and magazine articles, as well as podcasts and radio interviews are devoted to giving us recommendations, many of which apply to busy entrepreneurs.

Drawing on registered dieticians cited in Canadian publications, here are a handful of some of the better tips for entrepreneurial wellness that have recently crossed my screen:

(1) Drink more water.  Dieticians stress that drinking more water will help to produce glowing skin, regulate our body temperature, help us digest food and eliminate waste regularly. Consuming water can also help to prevent crankiness, hunger pains and headaches that occur from dehydration.

Dieticians report that men should drink 12 cups of water daily; and women, should drink seven cups. If that sounds unrealistic to you, consider eating foods with high water content such as strawberries, lettuce, squash, dairy (especially non-Greek yogurt and cottage cheese). Also hydrating are berries and vegetables, the latter of which can be eaten with hummus or dips, in place of carbohydrate heavy flatbreads or chips.

(2) Aim to get eight hours of sleep per night. In graduate school, I can remember laughing ruefully with a friend who described her tendency to stay up late at night, even though it undermined her capacity to wake up on time and start afresh, the next day. She called it the “Ten o’clock rule,” that whatever she was reading or watching suddenly became more relevant and compelling  to her work at 10:00 pm than it was a mere hour or two before (ha ha)!

And yet physicians and scientists who research sleep continue to urge us to go to bed at a healthy (and consistent) time each night and to get at least seven (preferably eight) hours of sleep, including on weekends and during holidays. (How’s that for a challenge?)

(3) To get the best quality sleep, dieticians advise us not to eat for two hours prior to sleep, as digestion can stimulate acid reflux that will keep us awake for hours.

(4) Some foods that can help us to fall asleep faster, and stay asleep, include kiwi fruit, sour cherries and the juice of sour cherries. These have high concentrations of the hormone melatonin, that affects our brains’ responsiveness to darkness and that regulates our circadian rhythms.

(5) Oily fish like tuna and salmon have vitamin D and

Omega-3 fats that keep our hormone levels balanced and our sleep cycle consistent. So consider eating a tuna or salmon sandwich for lunch, once per week and a fresh or frozen filet for supper, once per week.

(6) Snacking on nuts such as walnuts is wise, as they also contain melatonin, magnesium and zinc, to help improve sleep quality. But be sure to follow up at night with dental care, as nuts make a particular mess of one’s teeth and gums (or else risk the wrath of our dentists and hygienists)!

(7) Finally, although dieticians say there is no science to explain why warm milk can help us to sleep, microwaving a cup of low-fat milk to make hot chocolate seems to have a calming effect on us, toward the end of a day. (The caffeine content in most hot chocolate mixes is not high enough to affect our sleep.)

(8) Perhaps most of all, getting some regular, cardiovascular exercise (three to six times per week, depending on your specific health needs) can improve digestion, mood, sleep and reduce stress. Although we have to overcome our inertia to get regular exercise (particular in very cold, prairie weather), I can confirm that these results are well worth it!

So if you are inclined to change your living patterns in this new year, these eight tips provide some practical ideas for doing so, without making huge demands on your time or budget.

And in these late pandemic days, small and inexpensive changes may well be the ones that become sustainable, long after our “new year resolutions” have been forgotten.

And now it’s your turn: Are there specific strategies you’re following this new year to improve your health and quality of life—especially as an entrepreneur? Please write in; I’d be delighted to hear from you.