January is a time when we often think about starting something new or doing something in a better way. It is also a great time to think about ways to improve our health and well-being. If you could make one change toward a healthier lifestyle this year, what would it be?
Start 2021 with a commitment to your well-being
Here are a few ideas for starters. We encourage you to create a goal that enhances your life and put a plan in place to work toward that goal.
- Exercise more. Exercise benefits us in many ways – physically, mentally, and emotionally. With so many options to choose from, decide which type of exercise you enjoy most and consider varying your routine to keep it interesting. Walking is a great exercise and gets you outdoors. For tips on how to fit in exercise when working from home, see our previous news article. Use our fitness club reimbursement form to receive reimbursement for up to $100 per plan year on your membership at a fitness club.
- Quit smoking. The U.S. Surgeon General has said, "One of the most important actions people can take to improve their health is to quit smoking."* In our previous news article on taking action to quit smoking, we share some resources to help you quit. UniCare covers counseling for tobacco dependence/smoking cessation up to a limit of 300 minutes per plan year. Learn how you can receive reimbursement for this service.
- Lose some weight. Whether you want to shed those extra few pounds gained over the holidays or pursue a bigger weight loss goal, there are many different weight loss programs to explore. Speak with your health care provider about which options may work best for you.
- Eat healthier. Try some new recipes, reduce your intake of sugar and carbohydrates, and eat more fruits and vegetables. These are just a few of the ways you can improve your diet. Check out these guidelines for healthy eating from the Harvard School of Public Health. If you have a health condition, work with your health care provider to follow any recommended dietary restrictions.
- Better manage a health condition, like diabetes or high cholesterol. Speak with your health care provider to see what steps you can take to make more progress in managing a condition. Basic, PLUS and Community Choice members can also work with a UniCare primary nurse for help in developing a plan. You can receive reimbursement up to $500 when you complete 20 or more sessions in an approved diabetes prevention program.
- Get enough sleep. With life's hectic pace, a good night's sleep can often feel like a luxury you cannot afford. But adequate, quality sleep is critical and can really make a difference in your health and well-being. Find out how much sleep you should get and habits to improve your sleep from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Reduce your stress level. We deal with stress every day, but when the load becomes too great it may be time to make some changes. The past year has certainly brought greater stress levels to most if not all of us. Learn about 10 ways to reduce stress. Active state and municipal employees and their dependents can also check with the Mass4YOU EAP for helpful resources. Talk to your health care provider if you feel depressed or anxious for more than several weeks or if it starts to interfere with your life.
- Connect more with friends and family. Keeping socially connected is so important for our emotional well-being. While we're restricted from gathering together physically as much as we would like during this time, look for opportunities to stay connected with your loved ones online, by phone, or in other creative ways.
Making steady progress toward better health
As you think about ways to improve your health, it helps to keep in mind that all changes start with small steps. These small steps can add up to big benefits in your health and the quality of your life. We encourage you to start making strides toward your chosen wellness goal.
Developing SMART goals is one way to help ensure your success. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-framed.
It is a good idea to speak with your health care provider before significantly changing your daily health and fitness routine, especially if you have a chronic health condition.
More helpful resources
- Basic, PLUS and Community Choice members can work with a UniCare primary nurse at no extra charge to get one-on-one support for a health condition or help with reaching a health goal. These nurses are dedicated to your personal care and to helping you and your family members enjoy your best health. Call UniCare Member Services toll free at 833-663-4176.
- Active state and municipal employees and their dependents can also check with the Mass4YOU EAP for helpful resources.
- Look for more health tips in our previous news article, Healthy body, healthy mind.
1 What You Need to Know about Quitting Smoking – Advice from the Surgeon General. (Accessed January 2021): hhs.gov