Healthy Living

Let’s get happy! 6 ways to feel your best this year

Let’s get happy, y’all, by focusing on better sleep, more energy and less anxiety

“The ingredients are simple,” said Dr. Ramon Parrish, a primary care physician at Augusta University Family Medicine, “and adding these easy changes into your lifestyle can make a big impact on your health and happiness.”

Want better sleep? It’s all about sleep hygiene.

Most of us tend to go full throttle, then want to crawl into bed and want sleep to come naturally. Unfortunately, sleep doesn’t happen that way. And while sleep medicines may seem like an easy fix, most affect your performance the next morning.

Sleep hygiene, also known as preparing for sleep, is key – especially for those people who tend to drift off in front of the TV or after dinner, only to wake up a couple of hours later unable to fall back asleep. Preparing for sleep makes it easier to fall asleep. Turn down your bed, change into your sleep clothes, avoid alcohol and stimulants, turn off distractions such as television or your smartphone, and let your mind relax in preparation for sleep.

For more energy, do more.

It may seem counterintuitive, but there is no better way to boost your energy than by exerting yourself and working out your body through an exercise program.

“People say they are too busy to exercise,” said Parrish. “I say they are too busy not to exercise.”

Regular exercise revs up the balance of the brain chemicals that boost mood and energy. While some may take vitamins thinking they will do the same thing, save your money, advises Parrish, and invest in a gym membership instead.

Plan for healthier meals.

It’s estimated that about 50 percent of all Americans want to lose weight, and many are starving themselves to do so, leading to poor sleep, less energy and more anxiety. A better goal is eating more healthfully – and weight loss will follow. Once you educate yourself on what to eat (focus on a mix of protein, carbs and healthy fat), plan out meals for you and your family for the day, week and even month. It starts at the grocery cart: Shopping for the right ingredients for the right meals takes discipline and a system, but it’s worth the effort.

Dial down the anxiety by turning it (all) off.

In today’s society, it can be easy to feel overwhelmed since we all live in a state of perpetual sensory overload. In many cases, we have to simply turn down the noise. That noise may be social media, television, after-work emails or other distractions. Step away from the smartphone and take a look instead at what is important. But if your anxiety is impacting how you function daily, make an appointment to see your doctor.

Bring on the happiness.

Discovering your purpose, being grateful for what you have and setting goals for you and your family are some of the keys to being happy. One easy way to help you remember and enjoy the good things? Jot down a few lines every day in a gratitude or happiness journal. After all, when it comes down to it, happiness is what most of us want to achieve in life, and the right attitude – combined with better sleep, better health and more energy – can help us get there.

Stay on top of your health care.
Establishing a clinical relationship and meeting regularly with a primary care physician is a great way to stay on top of your health care. Augusta University Health offers a variety of care centers and practice sites to fit your schedule. Make an appointment at one of our care centers today, visit, or call 706-721-2273 (CARE).

About the author

Augusta University Health

Based in Augusta, Georgia, Augusta University Health is a world-class health care network, offering the most comprehensive primary, specialty and subspecialty care in the region. Augusta University Health provides skilled, compassionate care to its patients, conducts leading-edge clinical research and fosters the medical education and training of tomorrow’s health care practitioners. Augusta University Health is a not-for-profit corporation that manages the clinical operations associated with Augusta University.