2020 has been a doozy, hasn’t it? From a worldwide pandemic to quarantine to a politically-charged election that has us hanging in the balance, most of us would like a re-do on this whole year and a chance to start fresh.
As we head into the new year, we have two choices. We can either feel sorry for our current state of affairs, reflecting on all of the things that didn’t happen in 2020. OR we can use this as a defining point to create something new and better for ourselves and our families.
How do you want 2021 to turn out?
Regardless of what the external world throws at us, we can begin to turn the tables in our favor once more and start to create better health, more financial opportunity, improved relationships, and more authentic happiness than ever before. You want 2021 to be the best year yet? Follow these 21 things for ’21, and you’ll be off to a good start:
1. Drink more water
The majority of us do not drink enough water every day. Water is an essential component to a well-functioning body. As our bodies comprise 60-80 percent water, we need it to carry waste, remove toxins, and improve cellular and metabolic function. Aim for at least half your body weight in ounces daily, and you’ll look and feel better than you have in a long time.
2. Establish good sleep patterns
When you don’t rest well, you engage in other ways to manage stress that are not as healthy. Lack of sleep is linked to a host of health issues such as mental stress, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Remove the electronics from the bedroom, keep a consistent bedtime, and surround yourself with comfortable linens for an optimal sleep experience.
Meditation helps to quiet the mind and soothe the soul. A simple five-minute period of quiet breathing and centering is enough to slow heart rate, bring you into the present moment, and transform your mind to a place of stillness and no stress. Who doesn’t want that in today’s world?
Meditation is thought to bring a higher level of awareness and a greater ability to handle what life throws at you. Start centering yourself each day with conscious intent, and watch your life transform.
Life is about movement and change. That which is stagnant becomes unhealthy and toxic, and this includes our bodies. We were meant to exercise and move; exercise brings significant benefits to our health and may actually increase our lifespan and reduce the risk of certain diseases.
Walking, swimming, stretching, yoga, and weightlifting are great options for building muscle mass and retaining bone density that can help combat the effects of stress and aging on the body.
5. Eat fruit
Fruits have a ton of vitamins and minerals. Aim to consume vitamins and minerals through your dietary choices, and you’ll be healthier and more satisfied than you will by simply taking supplements. Tickle your palate with papaya, kiwi, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, apples and many more!
6. Don’t forget the veggies!
Veggies are a rich source of nutrients and minerals like vitamin K, folate, vitamin A, potassium, and dietary fiber. Both starchy and non-starchy have their benefits; over half your plate should be full of fresh produce in the form of fruits and vegetables; your body will thank you.
7. Choose whole grains
A whole grain contains all the essential parts of a grain seed. With the seed layers intact, your grain contains a much better profile of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that will nourish your body. Some good examples of whole grains include:
- Steel-cut oats
- Brown rice
Anything processed or refined has been stripped of its nutritional value and will be of no use to your body. Steer clear of white bread, refined rice, and pasta, which will bulk you up without providing you nutritional value.
8. Love yourself
Self-regard is actually a crucial part of being able to live a quality life. Negative self-esteem and negative thinking will weigh your entire outlook on life. Not only that, but negative thoughts can have a negative impact on your health as well.
Begin with the simple exercise of telling yourself two positive things that you appreciate about yourself, and repeat them as you go about your day. In time, you’ll be training your mind to have a higher regard for yourself and your experience, and your emotions will soon follow.
9. Purge negativity as much as possible
Toxic thoughts, people, situations, and circumstances in. your life will have to go. They weigh you down, they impact your mental and physical health, and they reduce your quality of life. Change what you can, let go of the rest, and watch your life transform.
10. Avoid trigger foods
Do you have zero control around powdered donuts? How about that bottle of red wine that looks so tempting? Will that bag of BBQ potato chips last the evening, or will it lie in a crumpled heap of shame at the foot of the couch after a binge-watch session?
If you know which food or drink could trigger you and start a chain reaction of self-destructive behaviors, eliminate them from your pantry, your home, and your life. You’ll feel better, and you’ll have more self-respect in the morning.
Oxygen is a vital component of life. With stressful living and situations, we tend to take shallow breaths and contract our respiratory capacity. The key to reducing and even eliminating some of this stress is to breathe deeply. Fully fill your lungs, hold for a count of 5, then slowly release over a count of 7. Repeat four to five times and feel a noticeable difference in your mental and physical state.
12. Find your purpose
What is your passion? What is your purpose? What ignites your fire and makes you excited about life? That is what you should be doing! If you haven’t done so already, find that thing that lights your fire and makes you excited about creating the life of your dreams. Go get it!
13. Cut down on the processed foods and drinks
Along with fueling your body with the right foods comes cutting out those that are detrimental to your health.
Fried foods, heavily processed and sugary foods, and unhealthy drink combinations will be counterproductive to leading a healthy life. You can indulge from time to time. However, it’s best to start creating healthy habits by switching out unhealthy snacks and sweets with healthier options.
14. Refrain from drinking alcohol
Alcohol, in any amount, harms the body. It inhibits brain function, damage the liver, lungs, and other organs. While a glass of red with dinner is considered ok, drinking regularly could inevitably lead to health issues.
15. Learn the fine art of saying no
We take on too many responsibilities and too many obligations that have negative consequences. When we take in more than we can handle, the unnecessary stress affects our health, relationships, and even our finances. Do what you can to balance your obligations with a bit of free time, and experience better mental health in the process.
16. Clean your home
Freshen up those closets, bag up some things for donation, and slap a fresh coat of paint on tired-looking walls. As your home begins to look better, you’ll start to feel better, too.
17. Develop a new habit or skill
Part of what makes life more enjoyable is the process of learning and growing; you should always be willing to learn new skills and abilities that can enrich your life and the lives of others.
Take advantage of a mother’s wisdom and learn to sew, knit, or make something with your hands. Have you always wanted to improve your cooking skills? Now’s the time to make that happen. Perhaps you’ve always wanted to work with wood or clay; let inspiration and desire be your guide, and let your creative juices flow.
18. Get your finances in order
2020 was a tough year for many of us. We’ve had to reign in on our spending and make adjustments where we didn’t see lean times coming. Re-evaluate your financial health, and take control of your spending to have a nest egg built up for a rainy day.
19. Spend time with those you love
With so many people in isolation at this time, we’ve had to get a bit creative with how we foster relationships. It isn’t impossible. But it is still a bit challenging to facilitate time with loved ones and friends. Send notes, make regular phone calls, conduct social zoom meetings, get out for walks with friends around your neighborhood. Nurture your relationships, enhancing and enriching your life with the love and support of those around you.
The well-educated individual continues to read throughout his/her lifetime, knowing that we should take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow. Replace some of that social media time with quiet reading and contemplation, and see where this newfound knowledge can take you.
21. Practice kindness
Simple acts of kindness can change the world; you start with those you live with and then branch out to those you see in passing. You never know what someone needs, and practicing simple acts of kindness can give another hope that good still exists in the world.
There are many ways to make your life and the rest of the world a better place to live. Your contributions don’t have to be big. Even a simple change in your life could create enough positive ripples for others to follow suit. Here’s to your ultimate health, wealth, and happiness!