Last year was one for the books — and not in a good way. Between the coronavirus, a historic election and countless celebrity deaths, many people turned to unhealthy habits to cope. Weight gain, poor mental health and addiction were common and almost expected.
However, as new years often do, 2021 brought with it the promise of a new beginning. This is your chance to make a fresh start and leave old habits in the past. If you’re ready to live a little healthier than we did in 2020, adopting these habits may help.
1. Be More Mindful
Living healthier doesn’t always mean improving your diet and getting more exercise. Sometimes, it means slowing down and appreciating everything around you. Instead of going through the motions as you did in 2020, consciously move about your duties for the day.
Notice how the water feels on your hands as you wash the dishes or the smell of coffee as you get ready in the morning. Practicing mindfulness like this will help you find more happiness and make you feel alive again.
2. Put Your Phone Down
The average American adult spends more than three hours on their phone each day. However, many people don’t realize that smartphone addiction can negatively affect their thoughts, behaviors, feelings and sense of well-being.
Instead of reaching for your phone when you’re bored, make a list of things to do besides scroll through social media. Include alternatives like coloring, reading, calling a friend, taking a bath and other self-care activities. Investing in yourself instead of your phone will naturally foster a healthier, happier you.
3. Get Some Sleep
Easier said than done, perhaps, but getting some high quality shut eye is almost a guarantee that you will feel younger, healthier, and more energized every day. Create yourself a sleep checklist to really set yourself up for sleep success and include things like creating a cozy sleep environment, reducing caffeine consumption, as well as a few other proven methods to help boost your sleep sessions.
4. Pick a New Hobby
Once you remove distractions and temptations from your life, you’ll have a lot more free time on your hands. Instead of plopping down in front of the TV or losing yourself in symptoms of withdrawal, find a new hobby and immerse yourself in it.
Maybe you always wanted to try knitting and never got around to it. Or maybe you want to learn a new language or hit a new personal best at the gym. No matter what you choose, just make sure you enjoy it. Otherwise, you may get bored or frustrated, which will make it easier to return to unhealthy pastimes.
5. Bring A Water Bottle
Failing to drink enough water throughout the day can cause fatigue, dry skin, constipation and even dizziness. Yet, many adults fail to recognize these symptoms as signs of dehydration and mistake them for another illness or even hunger.
Fight the negative effects of dehydration by bringing a water bottle with you wherever you go. Purchase a new reusable one in your favorite color to promote hydration and schedule reminders to sip from it regularly. You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel when you finally give your body enough water.
6. Switch Up Your Diet
Of course, a more nutritious diet is an incredibly effective way to live a little healthier this year. However, eating better doesn’t necessarily require you to become a vegetarian or go on a special diet. In fact, the key to maintaining a healthier lifestyle is to make small changes and substitutions when you can.
Swap out soda for seltzer, sour cream for Greek yogurt and cinnamon for sugar. Eat corn tortillas instead of flour and try almond milk instead of whole milk. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try veggie noodles instead of indulging in calorie-dense pastas. These substitutions may seem insignificant, but they’ll make a huge difference in your energy levels and how you feel overall.
Community and connection are integral to your sense of well-being and can profoundly impact on how you think, feel and behave. Sadly, social distancing, lockdowns and quarantines have made socializing more difficult than ever. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t have friends.
Create a COVID bubble of friends and family members and agree to only hang out with one another. Alternatively, you can all abide by a certain level of protective measures to minimize the risk of spreading the virus. Then, get together once a week to play games, eat dinner or just talk — mask free! Seeing each other more often will drastically improve your mental health and motivate you to get and stay healthy in 2021.
Give Yourself Grace
Last year was hard, but replacing those 2020 habits with healthy ones may be even harder. Therefore, it’s important to be gentle and give yourself grace. Remember, no one is perfect and most people don’t experience massive change overnight — even if they have all the willpower and motivation in the world. So start small and be kind to yourself. The best things always take time.