Health Matters

Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.
Hale and Hearty: Public Health Specialist for NHS Derbyshire County Julie Hirst.

AS part of our ongoing series of health columns, Julie Hirst, public health specialist for NHS Derbyshire County, including Buxton and the High Peak, talks about how to stick to your New Year’s resolutions.

Every New Year we’re tempted to make resolutions - lose weight, quit smoking, pay down our debt. But how do we stick to them?

The Babylonians ate and drank a lot; they were fat; they smoked and were hopeless with money. How do we know this? They were the first civilisation to invent New Year’s resolutions!

For our resolutions to be successful they have to be based on commitment and not just wishful thinking. The most effective way to stop smoking, for instance, is simply to stop. Studies show that sudden abrupt cessation is more likely to be effective than setting a particular date in advance to stop – January 1st, for example.

Make only one resolution. Choosing just one aspect of your health to improve will increase your chance of success. Plan your resolution in advance. This will give you time to think about your goal and how to achieve it. Make sure you don’t just repeat last year’s resolution. Or, if you do, at least pick a different technique to achieve it. Keep the resolution specific and plan a reward for when you achieve your goal. This will give you something to focus on.

Giving up smoking is the single best way to improve your health, but many smokers find this difficult on their own. However, with expert help the chance of successfully quitting increases fourfold.

Free help and advice on quitting smoking is available by calling the Derbyshire NHS Stop Smoking Service on 0800 085 2299.

Reducing the amount of alcohol you consume is another excellent way to improve your health prospects. Try keeping an alcohol diary – you might be unpleasantly surprised to realise just how much you are consuming.

Excess drink can contribute to depression, obesity and liver disease. Your GP will give you good advice on how to cut down, while help is also available from the Derbyshire Alcohol Advisory Service on 0845 308 4010.

Try thinking about your diet. Cut down on junk food, like burgers, crisps and chocolate, and replace them with healthier fare like fruit and yoghourt. Drinking more water, especially with meals, also helps to improve your general health.

Taking up a sport or joining a gym offer great opportunities to get fit, but there are also loads of fun and easy ways you can get more active for free.

Whatever your health-related New Year’s resolution may be for 2010, the NHS in Buxton and the High Peak can help with a range of specialist services that can give you practical advice and support on coping with a range of lifestyle changes, whether they be quitting smoking or getting more exercise.

Visit http://www.derbycitypct.nhs.uk for more information today.