It might seem impossible to think of making your New Year’s Resolution for 2021 after barely made through all the uncertainty of 2020. But if only one thing we learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is to be sure about what we value the most. So, there it is, you know what you need to keep in focus. And while we cannot foresee what the new year will bring, we are much stronger and adaptable than we ever were. I bet you will find the strength to achieve your goals.
When we talk about resolutions, many people think about big and dramatic changes in their life. The problem with that? The vast majority of people abandon them by February. That’s not only frustrating but unhealthy. When we fail before we begin, we lose confidence in ourselves, motivation, and go back to old habits. Resolution means a firm decision to do or not to do something, a purpose, an aspiration. Forget about setting resolutions that don’t seem real to you. Being healthy isn’t about being the perfect role-model, but about constantly and continuously making better choices. Again, think about what really matters to you. Then cut your goals into small and manageable pieces.
Here are 5 do-able resolutions to include in your health journey for a happier you in 2021:
1. Create time for self-care and for your loved ones
You might think it shouldn’t be a resolution - it’s too obvious, too basic. But sometimes we feel trapped, overwhelmed with work or with our daily routine, that we forget about the most essential and important things in our lives. Take by example all of the burden events in 2020. How many times did you get stuck homeschooling your kids during the pandemic, working from home, taking care of the house, grocery shopping, and had to leave your own needs behind? Or perhaps you were too busy, too tired, that you didn’t feel like calling your family or friends? At some level, I’m sure something similar to those scenarios happened to all of us. So, we need a plan. A resolution with strategies to prioritize our essential needs. And love for ourselves and the people we care about around us is my number one thing!
2. Eat real food most of the time and every day in 2021
We all like some treats, and there’s nothing wrong with eating less nutrient-dense food or meals once in a while. The problem is when we start eating junk foods more often and in bigger amounts than we eat nutritious ones. So you should target inclusion. When you focus on restriction, you automatically lose your motivation to achieve your goal. Think about adding delicious real food into your routine. Focus on nourishing your body at every bite. You know you will be tempted in 2021. But that’s okay to give in as long as the food that doesn’t nourish your body is nourishing your soul. And, of course, it is NOT an everyday thing.
3. Hydrate with more water
It’s a very simple and clear resolution:
“I will drink (set your number, perhaps 8 cups or 64 oz) of water per day.”
Water helps your body to run better. A fluid loss at 2%, when you start having a dry mouth, is enough to affect your concentration.
Water will help give you a youthful glow, support a healthy metabolism, and help your body to eliminate waste. Give yourself a beautiful and efficient water bottle as a new year’s gift and keep it with you throughout the day.
4. Move your body as you enjoy it
Most people will add working out as a topic to their New Year’s resolution. And what they usually think of when doing it is that they will wake up early to head to the gym or do workouts from home before starting their days. But things will get in their way like they always do and if that isn’t a habit yet, this resolution will be cut off very soon. And they will end up sitting on their sofa watching Netflix.
Instead, consider all kinds of physical activity to keep your body moving. Do you like to dance? Or maybe jumping on a trampoline with your kids? Going cycling could be an option that gets all the family involved. Whatever you choose, make it fun, let it make you happy, not just fit.
What I suggest, though, is to be specific about your plans to achieve this resolution, so it won’t get lost when the weather isn’t great or you are not in the mood. Aim to do 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity - walking is known to improve joint mobility, digestion, relaxation, and support health overall. If you don’t it fits into your routine, perhaps 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic activity would be better (swimming, running, jumping rope).
But don’t forget about NEAT (Non-Activity Exercise Thermogenic) forms of movement. That includes walking around the house while you are on a call, working a few hours of your day at your “desk job” standing rather than sitting in a chair, taking the stairs whenever you have the chance. Make moving fun. You’ll support your health if you set realistic, specific, and achievable goals.
5. Practice smiling and let go of negative thinking
I’m not kidding. I’m sure you have heard about the “fake until you make it” approach to success, right? It’s not different. When you feel like crying, screaming, or exploding, smile! Practice it every day. Start by making a deal with yourself that for an entire week you will smile more. Set reminders or make the association with another well-established habit. When you smile, even if you are forcing it, your mood improves. Your brain trusts your muscles. Take advantage of that.
And be more positive. It’s a matter of practicing it, too. For every experience, find at least one positive aspect of it. Write it down. After doing it for a while, you will naturally start finding good things in a bad situation.