By KATIE KINDELAN, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — One major lesson learned from the coronavirus pandemic is that prioritizing health is as important as ever.
To kick off 2021, ABC News’ Good Morning America asked five influencer doctors for their tips on how to take charge of our health in the new year.
“2020 was a very difficult time for a lot of folks,” said Dr. Rose Marie Leslie, a family medicine resident at the University of Minnesota. “2021 will be a time for people to reconnect with their own health and well-being and get up to date on health goals they had been postponing in 2020.”
Here are five health tips from five doctors in five different specialties — from women’s health to mental health and skin care:
Five tips to take charge of your overall health
Dr. Rose Marie Leslie is a family medicine resident at the University of Minnesota.
1. Schedule an annual doctor’s visit: “Make an appointment with your primary care doctor. A lot of people stayed home in 2020, which means you might need to get up to date on certain health tests and screenings.”
2. Take note of your mental health: “2020 was really tough for a lot of people and a lot of people experienced new or worsening symptoms of anxiety and depression. If this is happening for you, reach out for help.”
3. Eat right: “I want you to focus on eating foods that fill you up, give you energy and make you feel good in 2021.”
4. Find joyful movement: “Think about what ways you can move your body that make you feel really happy, and try to do that as much as you can.”
5. Get a COVID-19 vaccine: “Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a must for 2021. This is one of the best ways that people can help keep themselves and their community healthy in 2021.”
Five tips to take charge of your mental health
Dr. Melissa Shepard is a Maryland-based psychiatrist.
1. Determine your values: “Values are the principles that guide our daily lives. We all have them, but becoming more intentional about them can help you make choices based on your values rather than the way you may be feeling at any given moment.”
2. Practice mindfulness: “Mindfulness refers to paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, without judgment. Mindfulness allows us to stay in the present and avoid getting caught up in difficult thoughts or feelings.”
3. Build self-compassion: “Self-compassion means that you recognize that you’re only human and you meet your flaws and faults with warmth and understanding.”
4. Adopt a growth mindset: “When you have a growth mindset, you start seeing challenges as opportunities to learn and grow. You stop seeing failure as something to be avoided and instead embrace it for all that it can teach you.”
5. Reach out for help: If you are in crisis or know someone in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. You can reach Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada) and The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.
Five tips for women’s health
Dr. Wendy Goodall McDonald is a Chicago-based, board-certified OBGYN.
1. Prioritize self-care: “Put it on your calendar. Make sure you allot time for exercise, for meditation, to just be.”
2. Set boundaries if working from home: “Working from home is not going anywhere anytime soon for many of us, so make sure that you know that you need to turn it off, that work will be there tomorrow. Set those boundaries.”
3. Work on your mental health: “Prioritize your mental health as much as your physical health. Going to the gym is great, but let’s make sure that we’re actually seeing our therapist or we’re taking time to take care of [our mental health], especially in this stress.”
4. Limit alcohol: “Make sure that you’re limiting alcohol to less than three drinks per week. Studies have shown that people who consume more than three drinks per week, compared to someone who drinks no alcohol, their risk of cancer is elevated significantly.”
5. See your gynecologist: “Make sure you schedule your annual exam. We’ll take care of your breasts, your cervix. We’re here for you. Make sure you schedule that appointment.”
Five tips to take charge of your skin health
Dr. Joyce Park is a California-based, board-certified dermatologist.
1. Wear sunscreen every day: “[Wear] SPF 30 and above, broad-spectrum, meaning it blocks both UVA and UVB [rays].”
2. Prioritize quality over quantity: “Right now, I see lots of people using all sorts of skin care products and really you just want to focus on the key ones that give you the best bang for your buck: sunscreen, moisturizer and a retinoid.”
3. Practice good sleep hygiene: “Having good sleep allows you to decrease your cortisol levels, which decreases acne breakouts. Wash your pillowcases once a week and invest in a good humidifier during winter time.”
4. Hydrate: “Drink eight glasses of water every day and use something with hyaluronic acid to trap that moisture.”
5. Be consistent: “You want to develop a good skin care routine and stick to it.”
Five tips to protect yourself from disease
Dr. Katrine Wallace is an epidemiologist and an adjunct assistant professor at University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health.
“Until we have enough vaccination in the community, we all need to recommit to double down on the public health recommendations,” she said. “Pandemic fatigue is real, and people are tired of hearing about these recommendations, but these things actually save lives.”
1. Avoid gatherings
2. Practice social distancing
3. Wear a face mask
4. Wash your hands
5. Get your COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it’s available to you.
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