The 12 Days of Wellness

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— Last week, I introduced the concept of "The Twelve Days of Wellness" as an opportunity during this busy holiday season to do some things to take care of yourself.

The first six days of wellness included exercise, nutrition, family health, safety, career and intellectual health. We suggested activities that you might try in each of these areas that would be meaningful in improving your health. Here are the remaining six.

Day 7: Social. The holidays are an ideal time to work on healthy relationships and enhance your social health. From sending greeting cards to gathering with family and friends, it's a chance to interact with those you care about.

Relationships involve give and take, reaching out and receiving. Call an old friend, donate time to a charity, send a holiday card and include a personal note in each, join a recreational league, host a dinner party or plan a potluck dinner with your neighbors.

Day 8: Emotional. Emotional health - feelings of love, joy, sadness, anger, worry, anxiety and excitement - is as much a part of our being as physical health. It's impossible not to have our feelings affect our physiology.

Look at the bright side of things and keep a positive attitude. If you try to see the good in things or people first, you'll find it more often. Practice gratitude. If we show thankfulness and appreciation, our family, friends and co-workers are more likely to be helpful, positive and thankful in return.

Day 9: Self-Care. Your good health is up to you. Becoming more involved with your own health care not only saves you time and money, it results in better care.

On this ninth day of fitness, practice one or more self-care skills. Re-stock first aid kits for your car; review ongoing prescriptions with your doctor, throw away outdated medicines, and have your blood pressure and cholesterol checked.

Your year-round goals should include being physically active, controlling your weight, staying smoke-free, keeping immunizations up to date and avoiding drugs and excess alcohol.

Day 10: Financial. Beyond a healthy checkbook and retirement account, a sound financial plan can reduce the stress that often comes with money matters. The key is to develop a plan and stick to it.

Cancel any credit cards you don't use. Start an educational fund for your children. Set an appointment to meet with a financial planner. Start a savings account for next year's holiday season. Write or update your will.

Day 11: Cultural. Exploring the customs, history, art and folklore of the world enriches our lives. So much can be learned and enjoyed from the experience of others.

Our own Yampa Valley is rich in history. Start locally and read about our unique heritage here. Visit the Tread of Pioneers Museum. Stroll through the local art galleries or sign up for a future art class.

Day 12: Conservation. While many natural resources are renewable, none are infinite. We must all do what we can to ensure that future generations have access to the same abundance.

On this final day of wellness, consider your conservation practices at home, at work and in our community. Use energy-efficient light bulbs, install a programmable thermostat and arrange carpooling if possible. Choose products with biodegradable packaging and buy eco-friendly holiday gifts.

If you'd like to end the year on a healthy note, try fitting in some "12 Days of Wellness" activities. I hope you will feel that it has been time well spent. Maybe some of your healthy activities will become new habits to enhance your personal wellness. Have fun, and happy holidays!

Lisa A. Bankard coordinates wellness and community education programs at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

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