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Top 10 Gifts to Give Yourself This Holiday Season

By Susan Beane, M.D., Vice President and Medical Director, Healthfirst

In addition to exchanging gifts with friends and family this holiday season, think about giving yourself the gift of better health. Here are 10 gifts you can give yourself which I’ve borrowed from the Take Care New York (TCNY) initiative, part of the health policy agenda from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).

 

1. Seek Preventive CareI urge you to get a yearly physical from your primary care doctor. It’s a good time to go over any questions or concerns you have and, if you have a health condition or illness, to discuss your symptoms and any recent changes you may have noticed.

 

2. Be Tobacco Free: Tobacco use remains the single leading preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you still smoke, please seek out a smoking cessation program at your nearby hospital to help you quit.

 

3. Be Physically Active and Eat Healthy: You don’t have to tackle everything at once. Try introducing one healthy habit in the new year: eat more fruits and vegetables or get off one subway stop before your destination and walk the extra few blocks.

 

4. Be Heart Healthy: Heart disease, stroke, and hypertension remain the leading causes of death in New York City. During your annual physical, make sure you get your blood pressure and cholesterol levels checked. Reduce your sodium intake to help lower blood pressure and the risk of heart attack and stroke.

 

5. Prevent the Spread of HIV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infections: New York City has the country’s largest population of people living with HIV/AIDS, and I urge you to do your part to promote safe sex.

 

6. Recognize and Treat Depression: Mental health is just as important as physical well-being. If you feel anxious or depressed, it’s important that you seek the help of a mental health professional or clergyman who can listen to you.

 

7. Reduce Risky Alcohol Use and Drug Dependence: Misuse of alcohol and prescription drugs can worsen physical and mental problems. Especially during the holiday season, I urge moderation when it comes to alcohol. And please, speak to your doctor if you think you have a dependence on prescription medications.

 

8. Prevent and Detect Cancer: I recommend that women age 40 and older get a yearly mammogram and that everyone age 50 and older get a colorectal screening. Talk to your doctor about getting tested earlier if a close relative has had cancer.

 

9. Raise Healthy Children: Helping our children lead healthier, fuller lives because they see us as role models for healthy behaviors is the best gift we can give them.

 

10. Make Your Neighborhood a Healthy Place: Pest infestations, air pollution, limited access to healthy foods, and limited spaces to exercise and play are all elements that affect the health of our neighborhoods. The DOHMH has launched the Bed Bug Portal—to help New Yorkers prevent or treat bed bug infestations—and ABCEats, an iPhone application that lets you research New York City restaurant inspection grades.

 

I wish you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday season!

 

Dr. Beane is Vice President and Medical Director at Healthfirst.  For more tips on leading a healthier lifestyle, visit the Healthfirst website at www.healthfirst.org.