Healthy + Happy Habits For the New Year
5 min read
2020 was the year that came in like a wrecking ball and flipped many aspects of our lives, including our routines, upside down. It’s more important than ever to create boundaries and establish habits that protect your physical and mental well-being. There’s no denying that lots of people have responded to it by stress-eating, doomscrolling, and working from the couch. No judgment here! It's been incredibly hard. But the new year is a great opportunity to take stock of the new patterns you've fallen into and consider whether you would like them to change. Many of us begin the new year with good intentions and resolutions that we intend to stick to, but without much of a plan for how to actually do that. Incorporating healthy routines is one of the best ways to change your lifestyle, and there’s a sense of permanency that can lead to your goals and resolutions lasting through the new year. The American Psychological Association recently noted that when it comes to your goals for the new year, you should think of them "not as a resolution but as an evolution," which is something that we can all get behind.
Start Your Day Early
The typical workday has shifted dramatically for many people. With getting ready for work, rushing out the door, and morning commutes eliminated each morning, how the workday begins has changed for many. In a way, there’s a little time added back to your day if you’re working from home that you can use to start your morning off at your own pace. While it's tempting to roll out of bed and onto your morning Zoom call all under 10 minutes, consider re-claiming this time for yourself to set your day up for success. Wake up a little earlier to make your go-to oat milk latte, change into your favorite loungewear set, and declutter your work-from-home space, and you’ll feel less stressed calling into that morning meeting.
Connect With People
Since quarantine began, we’ve all missed out on family gatherings, Friday nights with friends, happy hours with co-workers, and so much more. And while putting these moments on pause has been for good reason, it's been taxing and at times unbearable to spend time without the company of others. Humans are social creatures by nature, and fewer opportunities to see each other in person has meant less social interaction but also feeling less connected to others. Take matters into your own hands by gravitating towards habits that result in connecting with others. Our “normal” has changed, and with it so have opportunities and ways to connect. If you’ve picked up a new hobby during quarantine, see what sort of online communities exist for that hobby where you can share the joy of something you love with others. If you love reading, think about joining a book club on Zoom. Having a shared experience with other people will make you feel like you’re a part of something in a way that we all inherently want. And don't forget about more analog ways to connect too. There’s nothing better than unexpectedly getting a card or letter in the mail from someone you care about.
Eat More Intentionally
It’s nearly impossible to talk about improving your health and wellness without factoring in the importance of healthy eating. Nourishing your body with healthy meals that you enjoy is a lifestyle change that's made easier once you get into the right mindset about habits that work for you. Keep in mind that what works for others may not work for you, and that’s okay. There’s no point in spending all Sunday meal prepping if you know that you’ll end up saying, “eh, I don't really want to eat that tonight,” and order takeout instead. Finding healthy foods that you can enjoy and keep on rotation takes time and patience. Being realistic about what you can keep up with in terms of grocery shopping, cooking, and so on means that you’re considering your lifestyle and temperament while evaluating your habits. That’s key to making changes that stick.
Eliminate Small Stressors
Declutter your day and mind by focusing on the decisions that matter. We all face hundreds of choices every day — from what to eat for lunch to more complicated decisions that involve our emotional, financial, and physical well-being. The more time and brainpower you spend making decisions each day, the more likely you are to run into what is known as “decision fatigue,” a term for that feeling when you’re overly stressed by the endless amount of decisions you’ve had to make throughout the day. One way to combat this is to establish consistent + strong habits by maintaining unchanged routines. That means having strict and clear rules about certain things, such as when bedtime, your gym schedule, when to go grocery shopping, and so on. If you see an opportunity to simplify a task you’re going to have to do eventually, go for it. Put your bills on auto-pay if you can. Schedule appointments ahead of time. Take advantage of subscription programs such as Ritual+ so that you can always keep your wellness routine intact with products that you love. Anything you can do to minimize the inevitable small, mundane daily tasks that always add up will help, and your body and mind will thank you.