For many, entering into a new year is the time for a clean slate–to start fresh no matter how unhealthy (physical, mental, or otherwise) your previous year was. 2020 is the turn of a decade which means many bigger shifts in habits, health, and overall wellness. If you’re having trouble kickstarting your new year, try shifting your mindset. It’s not about reinventing yourself or making major changes in your life, but rather, a series of small ones and changing your attitude for overall wellness–mind, body, and soul.
Whether you’re jumpstarting the new year with some hardcore fitness goals or pining for a big promotion at the end of the year, here are some healthy habits that will help you stay sane no matter how crazy life gets. To us, sustainability isn’t just about the planet, it’s about personal health too.
You’re thinking about it anyway, so might as well put this at the top of the list. Exercise is important on so many different levels (so you’ve heard), but we’re not talking about weight loss goals or hitting your benching PR. We’re talking about cardiovascular health and mental health.
You don’t have to commit to 6 days at the gym or running 5 miles every morning. 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week of any physical aerobic activity will help maintain overall cardiovascular health. If you wanted to, the American Heart Association suggests that breaking these up to 10-15 minute segments of your day will provide benefits too. This can be anything from a brisk walk to a jog or a swim to get your heart rate going.
In addition to cardiovascular health, exercise can relieve stress. Exercise reduces cortisol levels (the body’s stress hormone) over time and increases the release of endorphins, which help boost mood! It’s also a great way to get better sleep.
Trust us, we love our In-n-out just as much as the next guy, but it’s really easy to overdo it. Eating well comes to the top of our list for many reasons; our diet can affect our health, mood, and even the planet. With disease and cancer rates increasing and fertility rates dropping, we’re not too far off from a Handmaid’s Tale type situation.
The EAT-Lancet Commission’s Planetary Health Diet is shifting thought on what it means to eat in a healthy way that doesn’t accelerate the degradation of the Earth. Eating well means increasing our intake of fruits and vegetables (by almost triple) and reducing our consumption of meat, namely red meat which requires significantly more resources than any other food, and releases the highest number of greenhouse gas emissions than even their animal-based counterparts. If you’re a meat-eater, try eating less than 50g of red meat per day to reduce your impact.
For better health, the Planetary Health Diet also recommends eating more plant-based foods that provide more nutrients to the body for optimum health and reduced risk for diseases and certain cancers. This means eating more whole grains, less refined sugars, more legumes and nuts, and colorful fruits and vegetables. With more conscious food choices, you’ll live longer, better, and prolong the life of the Earth for generations to come.
This is no joke. With the volume of stressors that modern life throws at us, it’s increasingly difficult to completely shut off for the day. The practice of meditation takes time to get down, but can be extremely beneficial for mental health and even sleep.
Reduce phone time
Our smartphones are usually on us 24/7–it’s practically impossible to not be around your phone for more than a few minutes at a time. They’re tied to work, play and everything in-between so how could we possibly unplug?
Exposure to light is healthy throughout the day because it regulates your body’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. However, when exposing yourself to light even in nighttime hours–for example, before bed–you more often than not will have trouble falling asleep and have poor quality of sleep to boot. Light exposure is not limited to just your phone though; your TV, laptop, tablet, and everything of the sort, expose you to blue light which has the same effect on your melatonin levels. For the betterment of your health, it’s recommended to avoid all electronics at least 2 hours before bed.
Keep living spaces and workspaces neat
If you’ve ever seen the show Hoarders, you’ll know why this is important. Cluttered spaces can lead to stress, fatigue, reduced productivity, and can even put a strain on your relationships. Keeping your living spaces and workspaces neat prevents you from losing important documents and prevents cloudy thoughts from clutter. It makes for a messy mind.
Drink more water
This might not come as a shock to you, but most people are probably not drinking enough water. Requirements for how much water to drink aren’t one-size-fits-all because everyone’s body has different needs. What we do know is that chronic dehydration can take a toll on a person’s body since our cells and organs depend on it. Adult humans are made of 60% water and blood is 90% water, hence the need to constantly replenish. Not sure how much to drink? Drink enough water so that your pee runs clear–and if it’s on the yellow to the dark yellow side of the scale, you’re dehydrated.
Dehydration also has negative side effects on your kidneys. Your kidneys filter fluids that flow through the body, so water is essential for the kidneys to function. Without water, waste products and excess fluid can build up inside the body leading to chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, or kidney failure–yikes. They can also lead to urinary tract infections (the second most common type of infection in the body). The solution to all of this? Drink plenty of water.
If you haven’t done so already, invest in a reusable water bottle that you can carry with you to have water on you at all times of the day. Among many other reasons, people are choosing a sustainable self-cleaning water bottle–the LARQ Bottle–because it uses UV-C LED technology to eliminate harmful, odor-causing bacteria all day long. This creates a more convenient approach to using reusable water bottles so you don’t need to wash it after every refill (the recommended amount to prevent bacteria growth). It even purifies water on the go so that you can drink from most water sources with peace of mind. No Bali belly here.
Ditch fast food and takeout
Not only is it better for the planet, but it’s also better for your health. Making your meals at home lets you control what ingredients you’re putting in and puts you in control of your weight and your health. Plus, you’ll only put in things you love to eat, so why not right?
In addition, less takeout means less waste. Those styrofoam boxes, plastic containers, and plastic utensils are not recyclable and go straight to the landfill after you’re done. Instead, make your own meals at home or dine in. You’ll enjoy the experience more and you won’t be contributing to the growing waste issue.
One thing we really need to put an end to is this culture of single-use waste. Dependency on plastic single-use products is accelerating the degradation of the Earth and poses health risks to both humans and wildlife. In this new decade, if there’s anything you should resolve to do–it’s reducing waste. This means reducing packaged food purchases, single-use plastic waste (disposable straws, utensils, plastic wrap, sandwich bags, etc.) and spreading awareness of this issue to others. There is no action too small! Check out this list of things we’re ditching in 2020 for inspiration on what to swap out in place of some of the most wasteful everyday products.
Keep a journal
Journaling is an excellent way to unpack the day’s events, vent, or keep your thoughts in order. It may help you sleep better too because you’re not just going to bed with your thoughts. If you’re the type of person who has trouble going to sleep because you’re thinking about a million things a minute, the act of writing something down–we’re talking about taking pen to paper here–is the most effective method of clearing those thoughts. Set aside time at the end of your day to detox. Preferably a couple of hours before you plan to sleep. This allows you enough time to write and think about what you’ve written down before going to bed.
A great way to conclude your journal entry is to also review the positive highlights of the day, what you’re grateful for–whether that’s from that specific day or overall in life. Sometimes we can get caught up in the curveballs that life throws at us, but it’s important to also reflect on the things you’re grateful for. Regularly writing down what you’re grateful for can meaningfully increase your well-being.
2020 is the year for growth, wellness and overall happiness. Ditch those old unhealthy habits, and step into a new you this year. Your body and the planet will thank you.