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Small changes, big payoff

Mary Sullivan, GUEST COLUMNIST

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It’s been three weeks since the start of 2017. Did you make New Year’s resolutions? Often we set unrealistic goals: try to lose 30 lbs in 30 days, run a 10K race by next month and organize everything! If you’ve fallen off the wagon of good intentions or feel apathetic about your goals, it’s never too late to invest in yourself with small, healthy changes.

Here are 10 resolutions you can do in 10 minutes:

  • Make a list of five things you are grateful for. This can be done daily or weekly, but write it down! Gratitude boosts happiness and strengthens interpersonal relationships.
  • Laughing and singing reduces stress and improve moods. Research even suggests that singing can strengthen immunity – but still get your free flu shot from Health Services.
  • Take a power nap. Even a six to ten minute mini-nap improves memory, alertness and boosts cognitive performance. Turn off your phone, put in soft earplugs    available at Health Services. Close your eyes and focus on slow breathing.
  • Make small changes in your nutrition. Eat a variety of healthy protein: nuts, beans, seeds egg, lean meats and poultry. Try eating the whole fruit, more than drinking juices. Make at least half of the grains whole grains like oatmeal, whole wheat flour, and popcorn.
  • Meditate or mindfulness practices reduces stress and improves well-being. You can download free guided mindfulness meditations from the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: http://marc.ucla.edu/mindful-meditations. There are also short mindfulness podcasts on iTunes.
  • Try to get in 10,000 steps, or about five miles, each day. Walking a few more steps decreases body mass index and blood pressure. Many phones have free apps that track your steps.
  • Stand up! Prolonged sitting is dangerous for your health, even if you exercise regularly. Break up long seated periods every hour with short upright activity: six to ten squats, 20 jumping jacks. Even five minutes is enough to prevent or reduce the adverse effects.
  • Chew a piece of gum. Chewing sugarless gum may help lower stress – to enhance alertness and mood. If you still smoke, come to Health Services for free Smoking Cessation & Counseling. We can help.
  • Posture makes a difference. All the organs are in a good, supportive position, and you project self-confidence. Take a quick self-check when standing, sitting or walking. Check out ths guide on good posture: http://www.berkeleywellness.com/fitness/injury-prevention/article/guide-good-posture
  • Raise your gaze and smile. Catch whenever you’re looking down and frowning.  When you notice, raise your gaze at the area and people around you, and share a smile with someone. You will feel better, and so will those you smile at! Smiling is free, and helps you see the positive in the moment: a lovely sky, a song bird, a friendly smile back
  • Winter can be a gloomy, challenging time of the year, with many stresses, but this year, give yourself the gift of positive thinking. Positive thoughts and action play a significant role in how we feel. If you not sure where to start or need help, reach out to the De Anza’s Student Health Services. It’s the best gift of any season!
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