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Think Small for Big Health Benefits: 3 Changes Everyone Can Make

  • author name Cynthia L. Kilbourn, MD, MBA
Lady getting massage

For many people, a new year represents a clean slate–a time to break bad habits and launch a healthier lifestyle. But how can you make your well-intentioned goals and New Year’s resolutions last past the end of January?

My advice is to think small. Focus on making small changes in just three areas: nutrition, stress reduction and self-care.

Setting high expectations and demanding instant results is a recipe for failure. A more effective approach is to work on small changes, forgive yourself for lapses, and stay the course for long-term results. And remember, you can always begin again. Every day, you can make a different choice.

Eat Clean: Take a Lesson from Grandma

Our diets affect our physical and mental health, contributing to everything from type 2 diabetes to depression and anxiety. A clean diet can help you lose weight and feel better about yourself, and improve conditions like insomnia, migraines and irritable bowel syndrome.

Simply defined, clean eating is consuming whole foods with ingredients your grandmother would recognize.

Try these changes for big results:

  • Avoid processed foods whenever possible
  • Eliminate or reduce sugared beverages
  • Read food labels (fact: some yogurts contain as much added sugar as a candy bar)
  • Choose whole fruits over juices (less concentrated sugar, more fiber)

Reduce Stress: The Gateway Symptom

Stress is linked to a range of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, chronic headaches, back pain, diarrhea, insomnia, and depression. Stress can also lead to such unhealthy behaviors as smoking, overeating, and alcohol or drug abuse.

To reduce stress in your daily life, try these suggestions:

  • Calm your mind–take a class in stress reduction, use an app for guided meditation, or simply carve out 10 minutes a day to sit quietly
  • Stop multitasking—learn to focus on one task at a time without frequently checking your phone
  • Practice yoga
  • Aim for 30 minutes of daily exercise most days

Make Time for Self-care

Women in particular, are often so focused on caring for others that they neglect to care for themselves, often pushing through pain until symptoms can no longer be ignored. Scheduling a massage or other holistic treatment actually benefits the whole family. You cannot adequately care for others and show up for them long-term, unless you care for yourself as well.

Complementary therapies are widely recognized in mainstream medicine as valuable tools for wellness and healing. For years, holistic treatments have been integrated in programs for patients with cancer or recovering from surgery or childbirth.

More recently, LG Health began offering massage, acupuncture and Reiki (healing energy that involves light touch on or just above the recipient) with no referral needed. These therapies have been shown to improve overall wellness and reduce pain and anxiety, and can decrease the need for medication to treat migraines, joint pain, back pain, insomnia and more.

To schedule an appointment for massage, acupuncture or Reiki, call 717-544-3555.

author name

Cynthia L. Kilbourn, MD, MBA

Cynthia L. Kilbourn, MD, MBA, is a physician with LG Health Physicians Family and Maternity Medicine.

Education: Undergraduate–Muhlenberg College; Medical School–Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania; Residency and Fellowship–Ventura County Medical Center.

Call: 717-544-3737

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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