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Psychologist’s Tips for Setting Achievable New Year’s Health Resolutions in 2024

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Expert from global health system Cleveland Clinic advises focusing on the motivation for change, and ensuring goals are ‘SMART’ to encourage long-term success

 

January 11, 2024, NASSAU, Bahamas: New Year’s resolutions are often abandoned almost as soon as they are made, but according to a psychologist from global health system Cleveland Clinic, the problem could lie in how the resolutions were formulated, rather than a perceived lack of willpower.

“To improve the chances of long-term success, individuals can carefully consider why they want to achieve a certain lifestyle goal, being as specific as possible, says David Creel PhD, a clinical psychologist, exercise physiologist and registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic, “Regularly revisiting the ‘why’ behind the objective can help people keep up the momentum after the initial enthusiasm has worn off. Even if individuals have already broken their resolutions, they can reformulate these in a way that supports a successful outcome.”

Once clear on their motivation, individuals can improve their chances of success by reviewing their work-life balance and committing to prioritizing self-care in the same way they would do for work success, for example.

The next step, says Dr. Creel, would be to formulate the health objective using the concept of SMART goals, meaning goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-bound. He gives the following example of goal that is SMART: “I am going to get up at 7am, four days a week, to take a 30-minute walk.”

Another useful approach, says Dr. Creel, could be to reframe outcome-oriented goals as behavior-oriented goals. “Sometimes people start out with an outcome goal such as wanting to lose 30 pounds, whereas it could be more effective to identify behaviors that need to change to achieve this goal. For example, they could aim to walk on the treadmill, rather than sitting on the couch, when watching a favorite TV show.”

Building in a timeframe for the regular reevaluation of goals is also important, especially when overarching goals have been broken down into short-term, measurable goals, says Dr. Creel. This reassessment can be done by the individual themselves, or with support from a loved one. Other options are to join a virtual or in-person group, program or app that holds them accountable or keeps them motivated.

“This has to be well thought out, so your choice of accountability partner is not counterproductive,” says Dr. Creel. “For example, if you are new to exercising and decide to work out with a friend who doesn’t enjoy exercising, you could easily end up talking each other out of any activity,”

Another helpful measure is the use of rewards. “In general, internal motivation is more powerful than external motivation,” Dr Creel says. “However, when it comes to starting something new, judicious use of rewards can be really helpful. A non-food reward, such as a massage, after a certain number of weeks can keep you motivated as you head towards achieving your overall goal.”

Setting some ‘one and done’ goals, such as signing up to complete a 5km walkathon, could also help support the achievement of a long-term goal, says Dr. Creel. He says that by achieving several smaller, realistic goals, the person can build their confidence and motivation.

To increase their chances of success, individuals can also prepare and rehearse for temptations and challenges. “For example, if you want to commit to taking an exercise class every second day, but have previously found that some days leave you too tired to exercise, you could decide beforehand that on days like these you will do at least 10 minutes of exercise, which you can easily fit in while watching a TV program,” says Dr. Creel.

Similarly, he says, a person can identify obstacles such as moods that interfere with good intentions and then think about what has helped to overcome this obstacle in the past, for example socializing might help if someone feels down. If people normally ‘stress-eat’, they could anticipate this by having a prepacked calorie-controlled treat at the back of the cupboard to reach for, which helps eliminate the ‘all or nothing’ feeling that could lead to overeating.

“If there are specific mood disorders that get in the way of success or a person is experiencing an ongoing struggle in an issue such as managing their weight, they could consider seeking support from a psychologist specialized in that area to help them to explore and manage the issue,” Dr. Creel concludes.

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Caribbean News

PAHO Calls Americas to Increase Aedes aegypti Mosquito Control

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#PAHO#Dengue#Americas, February 23rd, 2024 – With nearly seven thousand cases of dengue and 102 deaths reported in the Americas as of early February 2024, the Pan American Health Organization is once again calling for stronger measures to control the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main transmitter of dengue. These numbers indicate a 157 percent increase in cases over the same period in 2023.  In the first five weeks of 2024, Peru, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Costa Rica, French Guiana, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay reported an increase in cases.

 

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Government

Ministry of Health and Human Services in Collaboration with UK Health Security Agency conducts Migrant Health needs Assessment  

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#TurksandCaicos, February 23, 2024 – The Ministry of Health and Human Services has partnered with a team from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) Public Health Programme to conduct a health needs assessment for communities in informal settlements throughout the TCI.  This project was funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and has taken place through a series of consultations and meetings in order to assess health needs and propose recommendations to address gaps in access to health care.

A steering committee supported the preliminary discussions on developing the scope and direction for the assessment and included representation from the TCI from Dr. Dawn O’Sullivan, Dr. Camelia Clarke (Director, Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit), Mrs. Aldora Robinson (Former Director, Health Promotion and Advocacy Unit) and Dr. Nadia Astwood (Chief Medical Officer).

This project culminated in an in-country visit by a team which included: Annabel Grieve (Programme Management Lead), Dr. Amoolya Vusirikala (Public Health Registrar) and Allegra Chatterjee (Epidemiologist) with earlier support provided by Dr. Natalie Wright, Health Protection Lead and Consultant in Global Public Health with the UK Overseas Territories, Global Operations. The visit, which began on January 21st 2024 and concluded this week, saw a number of in-person consultations with key stakeholders across sectors, as well as community focus groups conducted in Providenciales and Grand Turk.

Following the visit, the team paid a courtesy call to the Hon. Minister of Health and Human Services, Shaun D Malcolm and the Executive Team from the Ministry of Health and Human Services, to provide a high level debrief and presentation of the preliminary findings of the assessment. Following further analysis of the findings of the visit, a final report will be submitted to the Ministry of Health and Human Services which will provide a number of conclusions as well as evidence-based recommendations for consideration by the Government.

Commenting on the visit, Hon. Shaun D Malcolm stated that “we welcome this support from UKHSA and FCDO with whom the Ministry of Health has enjoyed a close working relationship and technical support over the years, to formally assess the health needs of this population in order to ensure that the overall health of our population can be addressed in a holistic manner to ensure that universal access to health care is addressed.”

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Caribbean News

Irish Humanitarian Organization in Haiti – Address Hunger Crisis and More

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Rashaed Esson

Staff Writer

 

#Haiti#Crisis#ConcernWorldwide, February 2oth, 2024 – Seeing that Haiti’s humanitarian crisis worsens day by day with too many Haitians, hundreds of thousands, edging the line to severe deprivation of food, Ireland’s largest aid and humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide is addressing major food insecurity. 

 The organization in a release said “ “We are providing food assistance, via electronic vouchers to help families purchase food from local vendors so that they can feed their families and prevent malnutrition in children as the situation worsens.”

They are also working to provide Haitians with clean water and sanitation as the waterborne disease Cholera continues to threaten lives, killing more than 1,150 people in 2023.

And, they provide referrals for cases of sexual and gender based violence in Port au Prince.

Concern is supported by funding from USAID, receiving €2.1 million (euros) to help over 30 thousand people in the hunger crisis as well as €1 million (euros) yearly from the Irish Government for its work in Haiti.

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