My New Year’s wish – better mental and physical health for all.

Canmore, Alberta. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)
Canmore, Alberta. (Dr. Noorali Bharwani)

“Many years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to never make New Year’s resolutions. Hell, it’s been the only resolution I’ve ever kept!”
― D.S. Mixell, writer

I hope you had a good holiday season and New Year. Now back to the real world!

Do you believe in making New Year’s resolutions?

In all honesty, I cannot say I have never made any New Year’s resolutions. But after failing to keep any or some of my wishes I quit making them.

One of the common resolutions is to be healthy by eating the right stuff and exercising regularly. But how many people can stick to this? A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed failure rate to be 88 per cent. This is because the goals are too ambitious. Secret to success is to apply the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid). (REF:

Most of the resolutions are usually about eating healthy, losing weight and to be happy.

Canadians are suffering from significant mental and physical health. Combine this with overworked, stressed-out doctors, nurses and other health care professionals, the situation is grim.

Canadians agree this is an unacceptable situation.

According Statistics Canada, percentage of Canadians who perceived their health as very good or excellent from 2003 to 2021 was 60 per cent. That means 40 per cent of Canadians are not in good health. A 2022 survey found 63 per cent of Canadians said lack of staff was the biggest problem facing the national healthcare system. Access to treatment and/or long waiting times were also considered to be pressing issues. By the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, one in two have – or have had – a mental illness.

More Canadians are feeling lonely and anxious. In the last one-year, greater proportion of Canadians were suffering from major depressive disorder.

Depression and anxiety disorders are among the most common types of mental disorders in Canada and have been shown to have a major impact on the daily lives of those affected. Access to mental healthcare across Canada is poor. Only one in five people with depression get appropriate treatment.

Can we fix our health care problems?

There are two issues: funding and human resources. If we have the money then we can train and recruit more doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. Before that happens, the provincial and federal governments have to stop arguing. We don’t know when that is going to happen. In the meantime, Canadians will have to suffer unless we take care of our health ourselves.

You can make three New Year’s resolutions: eat healthy, avoid loneliness and enjoy life.

Positive affective well-being (i.e., feelings of happiness and enjoyment) has been associated with longer survival and reduced incidence of serious illness. A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (2014) shows the degree of enjoyment of life remained an important predictor of future functionality, indicating the power of positive outlook on life. (REF: Enjoyment of life and declining physical function at older ages: a longitudinal cohort study – CMAJ 2014. DOI:10.1503).

There is enough evidence to show enjoyment of life is relevant to the future disability and mobility of older people. Efforts to enhance wellbeing at older ages may have benefits to society and health care systems.

Happy New Year and have a wonderful healthy 2023. We hope, 2023 will bring better mental and physical health for all.

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