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Seven preventive care strategies to explore this year

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New Year’s resolutions are supposed to set you up for success. But sometimes, life gets in the way, and it's easy to fall back into old habits. 

Rather than embarking on that trendy cleanse or one-time fitness challenge, a more manageable, long-term approach could help foster healthy habits that can last a lifetime. And it’s these habits that can help prevent illness. 

This is the cornerstone of preventive care, which is one of the most applicable and sustainable ways to help improve your long-term health. Here are seven preventive care strategies to explore this year.

1. Remember to be kind to yourself.

Anytime you adopt a healthy change in your habits, it starts with a shift in mindset, and one of the most important shifts you can make is practicing self-compassion. Not only can this improve your physical and mental wellbeing, but it may also make integrating preventive care into your everyday lifestyle more intuitive.

How to get started.
Treat yourself with the same kindness, patience, and forgiveness you show others. Remember—you don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay to fall off the wagon or skip a day. The point of making realistic changes rather than audacious resolutions is that you don’t feel obligated to a strict regimen or a firm objective.

2. Create an exercise routine you enjoy.

You may have heard that you should be striving for at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. If that sounds a bit daunting, don’t worry—that’s about 20 minutes a day.

It’s helpful to note that there are three levels of exercise intensity—light, moderate, and vigorous—and that 150 minutes should be spent on moderate activities such as brisk walking, biking, or swimming. Alternatively, you can aim for 75 minutes of more vigorous exercises such as running, dancing, or strength training. How do you know if an activity is vigorous? Try the “talk test”: if you’re able to speak during your workout, but struggle to sing, then it’s moderate; but if you’re breathing too hard to talk continuously, your workout is vigorous.

How to get started.
Start small. Choose an activity you enjoy—a brisk walk, a light jog, yoga for beginners—and do it every day for just 10-15 minutes. As you increase your fitness level, you can build up to 20 minutes and work towards meeting that 150-minute target.

3. Set aside moments for mindfulness.

Mindfulness doesn’t require any special techniques for sitting, breathing, or thinking. It’s simply engaging with the present moment and being conscious of how you’re choosing to observe and process what you’re experiencing. This type of self-regulation is a powerful tool for boosting emotional awareness and resilience.

How to get started.
There are many ways to get started, such as guided meditation apps, or even just closing your eyes and taking ten mindful breaths every morning as you brew your tea or coffee or when you’re feeling overwhelmed. As mindfulness becomes a normalized part of your routine, you might notice how effective it can be in reducing stress.

4. Plan your diet around holistic health.

Fad diets are frequently seen as a “quick fix,” especially for those looking to lose weight. But they’re often temporary—as are their outcomes—and they can lead to unbalanced nutritional intake.

Eating well isn’t about forcing yourself to tolerate foods you don’t enjoy. Instead, focus on your favourite healthy foods, as pleasure has been found to be a much more effective motivator for healthy eating than nutrition alone. What’s more, be sure to place self-compassion at the centre of your diet. 

How to get started.
Take a wide view of your dietary health and factor in fruits, vegetables, and fibre, as well as things like vitamin D and calcium, which contributes to long-term bone health. If in doubt, TELUS Health Virtual Care enables you to consult a nurse practitioner on-demand, who can help to refer you to a specialist dietician for additional advice and support, if necessary.

5. Adequate sleep needs to be a priority.

Your body and mind can’t function without quality rest, and poor sleep has long-term ramifications for your physical and psychological wellness. Health professionals recommend seven to nine hours per night

How to get started.
Focus on mindfulness and movement throughout your day and limit your caffeine and alcohol intake in the evening. It is also recommended to put away your electronics about one hour before bed.

6. Screening is key for preventive care.

When you have some one-on-one time with a primary healthcare professional, it’s a great opportunity to ask questions or address concerns about your general health. There are routine, non-invasive screenings they may recommend, which can help identify conditions such as high blood pressure or cholesterol, or your risk of diabetes or pre-diabetes.

Other screenings, such as for cancer, are also an important part of the preventive care process, but health professionals only suggest those when there’s a reasonable risk.

How to get started.
Book a screening appointment with your family doctor.

7. Talk through challenges with a counsellor.

It can be tricky to maintain positive lifestyle changes. If you need some coaching or positive reinforcement—or if you want to let go of unhealthy habits such as smoking or frequent alcohol use—counselling can be a huge help. Remember: your mental health is inseparable from your physical health, so make time for it.

How to get started.
Be patient and give yourself time. If you’re not yet ready to book an appointment with a primary healthcare professional or mental health specialist, there are other ways to get positive reinforcement on your health journey, such as the TELUS Health Wellbeing platform.

Resources are available to support your preventive care.

Of course it’s important to have compassion for yourself—and increasingly, organizations are finding innovative ways to support and empower employees to bring their healthiest, happiest selves to work.

TELUS Health Virtual Care connects you to healthcare professionals who can support you with a broad range of things, including providing referrals to services and specialists, so you can ensure you’re feeling, performing, and living at your best.