December 20, 2017

Make your new year's resolutions a family affair

Luis Sandoval, MD , is a board-certified psychiatrist and family medicine specialist at the  Kaiser Permanente Santa Ana Medical Offices . He offers these tips to help you set, and keep, your New Year's resolutions.

When picking New Year’s resolutions, we often focus on goals we can accomplish individually.  However, one of the main reasons we often give up on our resolutions is that we get busy taking care of others and end up not having enough time to take care of ourselves.  My advice this year?  Make family resolutions.  You’re more likely to stick to them when it’s a group effort.  Not only will your health benefit, but so will the health of your children and partner.  Plus, it’ll give you new opportunities to connect and spend time together.

With that in mind, here are four New Year’s resolutions I will be making with my family.  I encourage you to try them too!

Unplug (or Disconnect): Whether it’s for work, school or play, we all spend a good part of our day on our phones, computers, game consoles and other electronics.  While they may be necessary to get our jobs done, by using these devices during family time we miss out on valuable time together.  So, how about we declare an electronics-free day every month — if not one day a week — and connect with each other?  Go outdoors, have a game night or do something together everyone can enjoy.

Focus on healthy eating, not dieting: Weight loss is the most common New Year’s resolution, yet it requires making a life-long lifestyle commitment that includes exercise and healthy eating.  So, rather than trying to go on a diet, commit to making healthy eating a family priority.  Go food shopping together and cook together.  If you must eat out, try affordable restaurants that offer healthy options.  Remember that children who have parents who maintain healthy eating habits have more positive relationships with food, and are healthier and more likely to become healthy adults.

Schedule fitness dates: The word exercise can be daunting for both adults and kids. It is best to not think of it as a separate part of your life that has to be fit into your busy schedule.  Go for a family walk after dinner.  If your child plays a sport, go for a run or walk around the field while they are at practice.  Park in the farthest parking spot when running errands and make it a family habit to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Hold a family danceathon with your friends.  Remember: Kids and teens should get 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily. Adults, should get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week.

Get more sleep: It might sound easy, but this is one we all struggle with — and it couldn’t be more important. Lack of sleep can weaken your immune system, affect your concentration and productivity, and can make you cranky.  Adults need seven to eight hours of sleep and kids — depending on their age — need between eight and eleven hours.

When working with your family to accomplish these New Year’s resolutions, keep in mind that maximizing total health means focusing on a healthy lifestyle — mind, body and spirit.  This will help you and your loved ones achieve your health goals and live a healthier life.  Happy New Year!

Dr. Sandoval’s comprehensive treatment approach focuses on an individual’s total health: mind, body and spirit. He believes that by identifying and addressing underlying causes, implementing healthy lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, and taking medication when necessary, he can determine the best treatment plan and work with his patients to restore their emotional and mental well-being.