The impact of 2020 effected our lives in a way we could have never predicted or imagined. Life was stalled, put on hold, isolated, and fearful. The optimism of 2021 with a new year upon us made the call for resolutions necessary to seek improvement from the experiences of 2020.
We were taught many lessons especially about what it truly important and who is truly important in our lives. Even though time still passed and our lives felt like they were on hold, we have entered a brand new year ready for change.
1. Focus on today
Past or future has gone or will come, but forgetting about today leads to missed opportunities. The past is over and the future hasn’t even happened yet, but today is taking place right now. Often times we are so focused on preparing for something that is in the future, that we forget to recognize all the great parts of life today has offered us.
Its human nature to want to forget something ever happened or to look forward to something that is going to happen, but in the meantime, it is our daily habits that influence outcomes. It is popular to say that we can’t wait until the weekend is here, but that sets a negative tone for today as if today isn’t as good as the weekend.
You create a mindset that suggests today and the remaining days of the week don’t really matter or are a drag until the weekend hits. A more positive approach would be to make today really good because you are alive, healthy, and living today for today.
2. Have at least 20 minutes of silence per day
We live in a noisy, noisy world. It seems that when we are by ourselves we want to put the headphones in and listen to music, a podcast, or a book. It’s as if no noise is unacceptable. Think of everything that is thrown at your brain each day to for it to process.
Don’t you think it would appreciate a little quiet time to rejuvenate? We don’t have to have constant distractions. We tell ourselves it’s boring to exercise without music, or you need background noise when you are working.
This means that you are adding onto the task that the brain is currently performing. Sometimes a little silence helps to silence stress. You might even think more clearly. Your own thoughts are noisy in your head too.
I like to use the example of when I’m exercising and trying to count repetitions. When I’m talking or the music is blasting, I question what number I’m on or how many sets I did. All the noise is over stimulating to just count to ten. It’s like being a kid and having nap time. Silence breaks up the busy day and let’s you unwind for a short time.
3. Drink water as your primary liquid
Water has countless benefits to your body. It helps your skin, joints, and cells do what they need to do for you. Each day you might have coffees, teas, juices, or alcohol, but what about just water…..just water? Yes, other beverages contain water, but they also have caffeine and sugar or other chemicals that take away from what plain water can do for you.
Caffeine and alcohol can dehydrate you, which is okay, but this needs to be counterbalanced with water intake. Sometimes plain is just fine, nothing fancy. We want the latest technology not just simple. However you don’t need the latest flavored water with all its claims. It is okay to just drink it like it is.
4. Take more steps
It’s true we can tell Alexa or Siri to do just about anything and that includes tasks that once required us to stand up and walk over to the object. Walking to the light switch, getting up to turn the music on, or even going outside to start the car.
Convenience takes steps away (literally). Finding the closest parking spot is somehow an accomplishment. Catching the elevator quickly makes us happy. Let’s turn that into catching the cross walk light quickly. Electric bikes, skateboards, and scooters took those steps away.
This all equates to a less active lifestyle, less calories expended, and more opportunity to experience the poor health effects of being sedentary.
5. Get a physical from your primary care doctor
This is critical because you need to know what is going on inside your body. This should also include having a comprehensive blood panel performed. Between your metabolism, hormones, and cells, there is a lot to be accounted for in your body.
Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Ignoring things doesn’t make them go away. Haven’t we learned that lesson yet? With age we need to know if we are at risk for diabetes, osteoporosis, thyroid disfunction, and the list goes on and on.
It is very easy to put off this simple yearly task, but most insurances cover them and it’s the one doctor’s visit you really shouldn’t reschedule or wait to do. Your wait time will only add to more waiting at appointments if you have poor health.
6. Do resistance training exercises
Weight bearing activities are essential for preventative purposes and to burn fat. The more muscle your body has equates to more calories burned even at rest. It is also helps increase bone density which wards off osteoporosis and osteopenia.
This doesn’t require lifting at your maximum ability or straining yourself with extremely heavy weights. Added resistance typically can be incorporated with dumbbells or machines, but even water in a pool can be used as resistance.
Your body weight can too, such as performing pushups or squats. There is an option for every body type because of course not everyone’s joints or previous injuries are suitable for exercises like lunges or different shoulder exercises. There are plenty of modifications and accommodations.
7. Eat less foods out of a box
Processed foods have taken over grocery stores and have made there way into your house more and more. These foods have been designed to have longer shelf life and addictive tastes that make you crave more and more.
However, the preservation and taste of these foods is filled with chemicals and ingredients we aren’t even able to pronounce. Sticking to single servings of any of these foods is a challenge and we tend to overeat these simple carbohydrates that have little nutritional value.
Eating fresh foods actually allows you to eat more because they’re clean and packed with the right types of vitamins, minerals, complex carbs, and proteins your body needs. You will start to feel the benefits quickly and even see them as your skin improves and your waistline goes down.
It’s time to act upon what you already know you should be doing but have become so resistance to. Healthy habits require accepting the need to make the change then having the willpower and motivation to do so. Do I always want to get up and turn the light off when I could just tell Alexa? No way I’m comfortable.
Do I always want to take the stairs or park further away? No especially if I’m in a rush. Nor do I enjoy going to the doctors, but I should be aware if I’m low on iron or need more calcium or whatever the case may be. Ignorance isn’t bliss when it comes to improving our lives.
Quality of life is a reflection of quality time lived. The number (quantity) of years will keep adding up, but living each year a little better than the last makes the grand finale part of life that much better to say you lived a good life.
The truth about habits is that they become second nature, but not at first. They do require intentional effort to put into action. These 7 habits are sustainable and achievable, not unrealistic expectations that crash and burn before the year ends.
Progress isn’t perfection so maybe just focus on one or two at a time. Not every single day has the same line up of activity so incorporating what you can the best you can is what matters. We are so much stronger physically and mentally from 2020 which makes us well equipped to face 2021 with a huge smile and grateful attitude.
We know how valuable our lives our now and what and who matter in it. This includes ourselves so we want to improve all that we can control. We learned that we don’t have control over everything in 2020, but these 7 habits you can definitely take control over. Change doesn’t have to be drastic for improvement to occur. It will happen.