Happy New Year, Grand Zoomers

Most Zoomers know that making New Year’s resolutions is a short-term endeavor that usually ends with the resolutions being abandoned by the end of January. But, we do tend to reflect at this time of year on ways of improving our lifestyles and creating more enjoyment for ourselves and with our grandchildren. Here are some reflections worth considering.

While the most popular New Year’s resolution is often to lose weight and certainly the idea is a good one, it’s probably more realistic to resolve to eat healthier foods with the vegetables taking up most of the dinner plate and to make an effort to engage in some form of daily exercise even if it’s only walking. These days, there are fun ways of exercising with Zumba classes and playing on that new Wii the kids gave us for Christmas.  The benefits of healthy eating and exercising are threefold:  we decrease our risk of illness; we feel and sleep better; and in the process, we may even lose weight or inches. And if you’re not sleeping well, consider switching to decaffeinated coffee.  For a fresher taste, buy the beans and a coffee grinder for fresh-brewed and the only difference you might notice is that you actually sleep better.

As important as lightening up on our food intake and choices is lightening up our attitude. Making a conscious effort to laugh more often actually helps to burn calories and increases pain-fighting endorphins. The best way to get those extra laughs is to take time to play, especially with grandchildren, who are the best playmates at whatever age they are.

Another way to lighten up is to engage in grown-up play. Apparently if you’re married, married happiness increases every year after the first 25, so enjoying an activity, game or even a dinner date with a spouse is good for your health. Even single Zoomers can consider online dating or planning a trip or taking a class with a friend.

If you’ve resolved to volunteer this year, that decision may help your health too. Studies show that people who volunteer actually live longer than those who do not. Volunteering can keep us active, boost our self esteem and help us meet new friends.

Make a conscious effort to disconnect. We’ve all spent sleepless nights worrying about our children and our grandchildren and analyzing every incident and behavior that may have taken place during the week. We have to disconnect our responsibility and realize we can really do nothing to change the habits and lifestyles of our children and grandchildren. And, they will turn out fine, without our worry and analysis. We’ll be more relaxed and happier, even healthier too if we disconnect from worry and anxiety.

Plan something new.  Everyone needs something to look forward to during the long Canadian winter. A pet is a time-consuming, sometimes frustrating addition to a household, but for people who are alone, a pet can be a source of happiness and of course, unconditional love. Studies show that pet ownership can have significant health benefits, particularly in lowering blood pressure.

Something new doesn’t have to involve the expense and effort of getting a pet. Planning an annual vacation, according to one study, can cut the risk of a heart attack. It doesn’t have to be a lengthy, expensive vacation. A series of day trips with the grandkids to local attractions can be an inexpensive perk for everyone to anticipate. Even planning a sleepover for the grandkids once a month can be something to look forward to, both for grandchildren and grandparents.

-Bonnie Baker Cowan