As we count the final minutes of probably the worst year many of us have experienced, we’re all making 2021 resolutions in the hope that the next will be better. And while the tick of the clock past midnight on January won’t mean that all the world’s problems are miraculously solved, there are small steps you can take to make this year better for you.
1. Set realistic 2021 resolutions
Resolutions are one of those things that everyone seems to have, but few achieve. According to Forbes, only 25% of people stay committed after 30 days, and 8% of people achieve them. You can make them more achievable by breaking them down into smaller goals – make them progressive, rather than one big goal. Break them down into achievable chunks – a day, a week, a month. Then if you miss them, you can refocus on them to achieve within that smaller timeframe.
2. Listen to your body
It’s not uncommon to ignore little aches and pains, but small indicators of potentially larger problems shouldn’t be ignored. If you think it’s worth getting checked out, then make sure you do. BestLife has a long list of things you should always be aware of. Similarly, things like rest and sleep are important. If your body tells you it’s time for a break, then make sure you take one.
3. Get a regular check-up
Make sure that before you embark on any kind of self improvement that involves exercise, you understand your risk factors and limitations. Get a full check up from your doctor, and get their professional guidance on what will work best for you.
4. Get Moving
We’re not talking about moving house, but simply making sure we don’t stay stationery for too long can pay dividends for our health. Simply making sure you do some form of exercise for at least 30 minutes a day can have amazing impacts on heart health, mood, energy and productivity.
5. Learn to Meditate
The benefits of meditation have been practised for thousands of years, and simply finding time to focus your mind and listen to your body can have a tremendous effect on your physical and mental wellbeing. Here are 12 science based benefits of meditating as little as a few minutes a day.
6. Get more sleep
The importance of sleep to both physical and mental health cannot be understated. Physically, sleep is important for repairing and healing your heart, blood vessels and overall recovery. Mentally, it improves focus, concentration and helps to avoid anxiety and depression that can be caused by poor sleep, amongst other potential issues.
7. Take a digital detox
For anyone who has watched The Social Dilemma, or spent time on Facebook, you know that many of the social media platforms have been designed to attract and hold your attention with content they know you will interact with, or that reinforces a point of view you already hold. By disconnecting from this for a period of time, it can lead to a calmer you, the ability to reconnect with people, and even improve your posture.
8. Focus on your posture
Good posture is literally the backbone of feeling better. Proper posture helps with blood flow and the correct support of other parts of your body. It reduces the risk of neck and back pain, allowing free movement and the ability to get on with your day.
9. Have honest conversations about money
Financial worries can be one of the leading causes of stress amongst individuals and families. Left unaddressed, it can lead to things like depression, anxiety, insomnia, weight gain and more. It’s really important to have honest conversations with yourself and if relevant, your partner, to make sure you are on the same page about your situation and the steps you are taking to address it.
10. Be aware of your and others’ mental health
With all of the above suggestions, one thing is clear – being aware of your mental health is absolutely paramount, and part of recognising that is talking about it. Remember, it’s OK not to be OK. Find a friend to talk to, and make sure you check in on your friends. Talk to your GP who may recommend further action. And remember you can always talk to someone through the several help lines available.
With everything going digital these days, it’s very easy to go a long time without picking up a good old fashioned book. But reading just 20 pages a day can have amazing mental health benefits, including empathy, rationality and mental flexibility. And you may just learn something new.
Pick up the phone and reconnect with someone you haven’t spoken to for a while. Talk about how you’re feeling. Find your sounding board. Ask others how they are.
13. Pick up a new hobby or skill
Learning new things is always a rewarding experience, and 2021 could be the year where you finally take the time to learn something new. It might be a new sport, learning a language or learning to cook.
14. Find ways to manage stress
Stress is commonplace in todays society, so it is important to make sure you recognise it and have the ways of dealing with it, and not everyone will be the same. Going for a walk, talking with friends or meditating are all good ways of relaxing the mind and body.
15. Listen to music or watch a movie
Much like reading a book, music and movies provide a level of escapism and storytelling that can help manage emotions and cope with stress. They are also a great way to connect with people and discover new things.
16. Practice mindfulness
Being mindful and present are important. Technology, stress and other distractions can stop us from being in the moment. This great article from Leo Babuta suggests 6 ways to practice mindfulness in your day to day.
17. Put the right things in your body
Making sure your body is fuelled with the right things is important in getting more out of your day and general physical and mental wellbeing. A balanced diet and plenty of the right vitamins and minerals (like you find in Kanguru), are key to making sure you are ready for whatever the day brings.
18. Invest in relationships
Personal, business and community relationships are all important, and can are beneficial in having someone or a group of people to talk to about any number of things. Investing time in cultivating these is important to make sure that they are beneficial for all.
19. Reconnect with your passions
It’s very easy with work, family and a pandemic to lose connection with the things that make you happy. It might be a sport, it might be musical instrument, it might be long walks on the beach. Whatever it is that you are passionate about, make time to reconnect with that.
20. Get rid of the clutter
All of us, some more than others, are holding onto things we don’t need. As Marie Kondo showed us last year, if it’s not sparking joy, why are we keeping it? Removing clutter can help reduce stress and anxiety, help you sleep and even remove the allergens that may be making you sick.
Above all, make sure you know when it’s time to stop and take a breath. It’s very easy to keep going until something breaks, but listen to your body and mind and know when you need to take a pause. Recognise the things you are thankful for. And focus on the things that make you happy.
Here’s to a better 2021 for all of us.