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Health Resolutions You Should Commit to in 2021

For most, 2020 was an extremely challenging year. As we hope for a better year ahead, it’s also time to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions! With the coronavirus pandemic still looming large, we encourage you to keep health and wellness at the forefront of your 2021. Here are health resolutions you should commit to in 2021!

Focus on Your Mental Health 

2020 had a lot of negative news. Pairing that with social distancing and the inability to visit loved ones: it’s impacted the mental health of thousands of people around the world. 

Identifying mental health stressors and learning new ways to manage and deal with this stress is a great way to start the new year. 

Need actionable next steps? Follow these tips:

  • Consider journaling. Writing down what you feel grateful for or items troubling you can help organize your thoughts and create a greater sense of control. 
  • Reach out to a professional. With many virtual options available, seeking advice from a therapist or psychologist is more accessible now than ever. If you’re struggling with your mental health, seeking professional help is often the best first step you can take. Do some research to see if local therapists in your area are offering online counseling. If not, many national programs, such as BetterHelp, offer great, affordable options. 
  • Make “de-stressing” part of your routine. The highs and lows of life are unavoidable. That’s why working stress management into your routine is one of the best mental health habits you can develop. Some options to consider include: prioritizing 7-8 hours of sleep each night (yes, that’s a stress management tool!), limiting screen-time, scheduling daily walks, planning regular conversations with loved ones, reading a book, or even making time for activities like puzzling or coloring that can take your mind off the worries of the day. 

Break Bad Pandemic Habits  

Although important in preventing the spread of COVID-19, the stay-at-home order and social distancing didn’t do many favors for some of our healthy habits. In fact, it was common that most people reduced their physical activity and ordered take-out food for meals. While there’s no need to feel guilty about that, especially if those habits helped to get you through those challenging months, it’s time to reconsider those unhealthy habits that the pandemic created. 

For example, if you’ve dropped exercising these past few months, it’s time to get back to it. While you don’t necessarily need to go back to the gym, though now they’re following strict COVID-19 regulations, find ways to get yourself moving and motivated. Follow online workout classes at home, and exercise outside while safely distancing yourself from others. 

Take a look at the habits you picked up during the pandemic. Decide if they’re hurting or helping your health. If unhealthy, focus on habits that reverse their impact for the new year. 

Keep Up Cleanliness Habits

As we continue battling the coronavirus pandemic, personal hygiene and cleanliness are more important than ever. Thankfully, these habits will still have health benefits even after the pandemic is behind us. Certain practices such as washing your hands after visiting a store or wearing a mask in public when sick or in crowded places will slow the spread of other diseases and germs, such as the common cold or stomach bugs. 

If you would like to speak to a health professional about health resolutions you should commit to in 2021, click here to contact us or call 770-463-4644.

Breast Cancer Awareness: How to Prevent Breast Cancer

About one in eight US women will develop breast cancer at some point in their life, and it’s estimated that in 2020 about 276,480 cases will be diagnosed. Although these statistics are alarming — through awareness, early detection, and healthy habits, we’re making great strides in the fight against this disease.

While there is no surefire way to prevent breast cancer, there are lifestyle choices you can make to improve your overall health and therefore, your odds against this disease. 

Avoid Alcohol 

Even low amounts of alcohol are linked to a higher chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The American Cancer Society suggests this connection is related to the rise in estrogen levels in the body caused by alcohol. It’s best to avoid alcohol altogether if possible. However, if you do drink alcohol, it’s important to not have more than 1 drink per day.

Be Active 

At least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a week can lead to a lower breast cancer risk. Moderate exercise includes anything that increases your heart rate, like a brisk walk or a casual bike ride. A good way to measure this is that you should be able to talk, but not sing. Vigorous exercise includes activities like jogging or weightlifting that increase your heart rate significantly and makes you break a sweat. If you can say a few words but not hold a conversation, you’re likely engaged in vigorous exercise.

So, strap on your sneakers and get moving! 

Benefits of Breastfeeding 

For women who choose to breastfeed for at least six months, their risk for breast cancer is reduced. While this should not be the only factor considered when choosing how to feed and nourish your baby, it is an important factor to consider.

Healthy Weight 

Being overweight or experiencing a heavy weight gain as an adult can lead to a higher risk of breast cancer, especially after menopause. Again, this is why developing overall healthy habits is so important, especially throughout adulthood. 

Studies About Diet to Prevent Breast Cancer

Currently, studies examining the link between diet and breast cancer are inconclusive. However, some suggest there is likely a connection between consuming vegetables, fruits, and calcium-rich dairy and lower breast cancer risks.

Early Detection 

Even if you choose to adopt these lifestyle changes to lessen your risk for developing breast cancer, the most important step you can take for your health is to participate in regular screenings. Doing so increases your chances of both early detection and recovery. 

Here’s what you should be doing and when:

  • Monthly breast self-examination: You should be familiar with how your breasts normally look and feel and should report any changes to a health care provider right away. 
  • Yearly mammograms starting at age 40. However, if you have an increased risk of breast cancer, such as family history, you may need to begin earlier. 
  • Speak with your primary care physician about the best preventative plan for you.

If you would like to speak to a physician about building healthy habits or assessing your ability to prevent breast cancer, click here to contact us or call 770-463-4644.

What is a Community Health Center? And Why Are These Centers So Fundamental to Good Healthcare?

YourTown Health is a network of eight non-profit Community Health Centers located in communities that would otherwise have limited access to affordable, quality healthcare, especially if you’re uninsured or underinsured.

If you’re asking yourself, “What is a Community Health Center?”, you’re in the right place. Continue reading to learn what they are, why they are so fundamental to our healthcare system, and how we can all celebrate and support these essential organizations.

What are Community Health Centers?

Community Health Centers are community-based and patient-focused organizations that deliver high-quality and compassionate primary healthcare services to the communities they serve. They provide treatment and healthcare education services to patients while ensuring that no patient is turned away from receiving needed care. In addition to primary care, Community Health Centers often provide a wide range of services that support healthier communities.

As a network of Community Health Centers ourselves, YourTown Health’s mission is to provide comprehensive preventative, curative, and life-enhancing services in a non-judgmental and compassionate environment. We offer pediatric and adolescent care, family practice and internal medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, dentistry, and pharmacy services. Our Community Health Centers also provide immunizations, diagnostic testing and laboratory services, school and work physicians, and referrals to qualified specialists.

Why Are These Centers Fundamental to Good Healthcare?

Community Health Centers provide access to essential healthcare services to the people of their communities, care that might otherwise be unavailable for many. They help their patients live healthier lives and support the overall health of their communities.

As the National Association of Community Health Center puts it, “In moments of pain and loss, [Community Health Centers] offer support and love. In moments of triumph, they offer hope and vision for the future.”

Contact a YourTown Health office location to schedule an appointment with a provider.

Top 10 Healthy Eating Tips for the Holidays

It’s so easy to overdo it this time of year. Your co-workers are taking turns tempting you with sweet treats at the office. Then, when you get home, there’s an endless assortment of cookies, pies and baked goods available, thanks to well-meaning neighbors, family and friends. Just add in a couple of rich meals with the family plus those annual parties and the healthy routine you worked so hard at building is out the window. 

Let’s face it: we celebrate the holidays with lots of food. But you don’t have to be a scrooge, deprive yourself and avoid everyone. It is possible to have fun, enjoy some of your holiday favorites and stay healthy, too. 

Here are a few ideas to help you balance everything and stay mindful about holiday eating:

  • No guilt. Feeling guilty after indulging in food can lead to a spiral effect of unhealthy behaviors. Give yourself permission to enjoy. There will be some great memories made that you’ll want to be part of, especially if it’s your child’s first time baking cookies or Auntie M is bringing her famous sweet potato pie. P.S. Did you know that the average person only gains about one pound during the holiday season? 
  • But no excuses either. Vacation days and the spontaneity of the season shift our normal schedules around. However, this is not the time to forget every good habit and start eating pie for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Remember that Thanksgiving is one day; it’s not a continuous feast that starts the week before and lasts until January 2. Pick your moments to splurge and try to stay as close to your routine as possible. 
  • Eat your veggies. Aim to make veggies half of your plate at mealtime. They tend to be high in fiber, as well as much-needed vitamins, so you’ll reap multiple benefits. P.S. If you’re asked to bring a dish, why not offer to bring some veggies so you’ll know there will be some. 
  • But don’t be fooled. During the holidays, even the veggie dishes become more indulgent. Beware of concoctions masquerading as “healthy.” (Lookin’ at you, creamed spinach, yams smothered with marshmallows, and green beans swimming in a casserole.) Keep an eye on portion size if these are your favorites.
  • Don’t try to “save” calories. It can be tempting to forego breakfast and lunch on the day of a big event. However, the strategy of skipping meals in order to save your calories usually backfires. You arrive at the party famished. Overwhelmed with choices, you’ll end up scarfing down everything in sight. 
  • Snack healthy. Keeping your blood sugar in check during the day will help you keep your appetite at bay. When you feel like nibbling, take advantage of yummy seasonal fruits at their peak now. Choose from apples, pomegranates, oranges and grapefruits. Pair them with a handful of nuts, which are packed with fiber and healthy fat.
  • Slow down and savor. Enjoy every bite you take and the company around you. Put your fork down and talk in between bites. Give your body time to trigger your brain that you’re satisfied – before you’re stuffed.
  • Eat calories instead of drinking them. With so many decadent food choices, beware of piling on with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages that are laden with sugar, carbs and calories. Water can help you stay hydrated and cut cravings instead. Try alternating a glass of water for every alcoholic or sugary drink you have. Or, mix club soda with wine to slow alcohol consumption and cut calorie intake. 
  • Eat “low to high” and enjoy dessert! Yes, you can have your cake and eat it, too! Try eating low to high to build up to the richest food. Start with the lowest calorie food options, like broth or salad. Then move to the lean protein as you work your way up to the triple-digit dessert items. You’ll feel nourished and not deprived.
  • Take a walk. Something as simple as a brisk 15- to 20-minute walk after a meal can help ease digestion and stabilize your blood sugar. 

From all of us at YourTown Health, eat well and be merry this holiday season! 

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