I understand why people embrace New Year’s resolutions: it’s a chance to wipe the slate clean and set annual goals with new focus and enthusiasm. But are they focusing on the right areas of their lives? Instead of setting resolutions, a better approach may be to conduct a health self-assessment. It’s a way to take an in-depth look at where you are now, so you can identify the parts of your life that need the most attention. “A self-assessment gathers the vital information you need to begin thinking more about your life and how you want to live,” says Susan Flashner-Fineman, Vitalize 360 Coach at Harvard-affiliated Hebrew SeniorLife, a comprehensive wellness program that promotes healthy aging.
According to Flashner-Fineman, a complete analysis of your well-being should encompass five areas: physical, intellectual, social, financial, and spiritual. For each category, explore what you are you doing well and where you can improve. “This way, it’s not all about focusing on your shortcomings, but rather highlighting your strengths and building on them,” says Flashner-Fineman. Here is a look at the five categories for your health self-assessment.
1. Physical. Instead of focusing on simply staying healthy, tailor your fitness to meet specific goals, says Flashner-Fineman. “Ask yourself, what level of activity do you want and what do you need to maintain it?” For instance, do you want to continue gardening, or have greater endurance to interact with grandchildren, or just improve your functional fitness so you can do daily chores and activities with less pain and risk of injury? “Connecting it with something you want to accomplish also can help you stay motivated and focused on your health going forward,” says Flashner-Fineman.
2. Intellectual. Are you doing enough for your brain? It’s so easy to get trapped in the lull of repetitive activities that don’t work your memory and problem-solving skills. Learning something new is a great way to challenge your brain. For example, learn to play bridge, paint, or play a musical instrument. Interested in a particular subject? Take a class at your local college (many offer free tuition for older adults). You can also raise the bar on an existing skill. Love to cook? Try French cooking. Practice your public speaking at a Toastmasters club, or join a chess or book club.
3. Social. How well do you currently connect with others like family, friends, and neighbors? And how often do you interact with them on a regular basis? “Think about how you can improve your existing relationships as well as make new connections,” says Flashner-Fineman. For example, make a point to call, write, or go out to lunch with a close friend once a week, or consider joining a club of some kind that has regular meetings and social events.
4. Financial. Do you stress about money issues? A professional financial planner can help evaluate your current financial situation and devise a plan to prepare for the future. Lifestyle changes can ease financial strain and even make your life a bit easier. For instance, you could move into a smaller place that requires less maintenance and upkeep, buy everyday items more cheaply in bulk, or cut your cable and use the Internet for watching shows. “You don’t want to make changes that affect quality of life, but often we are afraid to make positive changes because we are used to a certain way of living,” says Flashner-Fineman. “But if you understand why the change is good — like freeing up more money to travel, for example — then it’s easier to do.”
5. Spiritual. Studies have found that some level of spirituality and gratitude is associated with greater wellness. Some people do this through religion or a faith-based community, but others choose activities like meditation and interactions with nature.
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Below are spiritual recipe for health and wellness: Matthew E. McLaren
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” – Mark 11:24
“Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up.” – Proverbs 12:25
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” – Luke 12:25
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11
“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” – Matthew 7:11
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” – Proverbs 17:22
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” – Philippians 4:6
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23
“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” – 2 Timothy 1:7
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many
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