With the new year upon us, it brings a time for reflection. However, following the many stressors of 2020—from the COVID-19 pandemic and global shutdowns to the presidential election. Despite all the things that happened in 2020, you’ve grown and can focus on what’s to come.
Luckily, one thing that we can control is how we take care of our bodies and maintain our health. As you create intentions and resolutions for the upcoming year, consider ways to promote all areas of your well-being like eliminating stressors, practicing self-care, and improving your physical health to make 2021 your healthiest year yet.
Read on to discover new year health tips or skip to our printables for ways to keep track of your health in the new year.
When looking to the new year, setting goals is a great way to set yourself up for success— especially when it comes to your health. When goal-setting, make sure goals are attainable and realistic—remember, these are meant to improve your health, so the last thing you want to do is stress yourself out. Taking gradual steps for your health and focusing on progress over perfection is how you’ll create healthy habits—not just for this year, but for many years to come.
Use the printable goal tracking sheet to set health intentions for the new year and track your progress.
A balanced diet can do a lot for your overall health and well-being. Fueling your body with a healthy, well-balanced diet can improve your energy levels and reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke in the long-term. Filling your plate with a rainbow of fruits and vegetables is an easy way to ensure you’re getting the recommended servings of these food groups.
Another easy way to track and improve your diet is to keep a food journal. A food journal can serve as a great organization tool to help you keep track of what foods you're consuming or identify areas where you can improve your diet. If you notice your diet is making you feel anything less than your best, food journaling can help you identify potential food sensitivities or diet changes that need to be made as well.
Monitoring and understanding your moods is a powerful tool. Being aware of your current mood and mood patterns can help you manage your lifestyle and health decisions to improve your quality of life. When monitoring your mood, it’s important to pay special attention to high swings and low dips.
Use the mood tracking printable above to log your mood daily, over the course of a month. It’s okay to not feel great every single day, but being able to track changes in your mood can help you connect to your feelings and identify patterns in your mood.
We all know the effects that a poor night’s sleep can have on your day. Approximately 70 million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems—so if you’re not getting the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night, consider finding ways to improve your quality and quantity of sleep.
Stress is one of the main culprits that can inhibit our ability to unwind at the end of each day and ease into a restful sleep. Finding ways to reduce your stress at night can improve your sleep quality. A few night time stress-relievers include yoga, deep breathing exercises, a warm bath, aromatherapy, or unplugging from electronics. If you still find yourself experiencing feelings of stress at night, preventing you from getting a good night’s sleep, consider taking an at-home sleep and stress lab test that measures hormones related to stress (cortisol and cortisone) and sleep (melatonin).
Sit less, move more. With shutdowns and people spending more time at home due to COVID-19, it’s easy to become sedentary. Set a physical health goal of moving your body for at least 30 minutes each day. Staying active can boost your energy levels, improve your mood, control your weight, and promote better sleep.
Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily for at least 5 days a week. If you’re strapped for time, you can break it up throughout the day. For example, get your heart rate up for 10 minutes before work, 10 minutes during your lunch break, and 10 minutes after work.
Mindfulness refers to the practice of continually turning and returning your attention to the present moment. Practicing mindfulness, such as through meditation (including mantra meditation) can help relieve you of stress and ease your mind away from ruminating about the past or worrying over the future.
The best part? Getting started with a mindfulness-based practice that works for you is as simple as it gets. Consider trying out apps for guided meditation (like Calm, Headspace, or Insight Timer), refocusing your attention to your breath throughout the day, or just bringing your awareness to the here and now any time you notice one of the “mantra reminders” (in the printable above) that you’ve attached around your living space. Mindfulness practices like these can keep you grounded and anchored to the present moment in the new year—after the unprecedented uncertainties of 2020.
Declutter Your Space Out with the old and in with the new year! Making a goal to declutter and clear your space can help you live and feel better throughout the year. Clearing out unused items within your space is a great place to start.
Decluttering can help ease anxious feelings and cultivate a happy and healthy environment. This can also help prevent certain allergens, like dust and dander, from building up in your home and causing you unwanted symptoms, like watery eyes or sneezing.
Your gut houses trillions of bacteria, which carry out vital roles for keeping your body functioning properly. To fuel the healthy bacteria in your gut, a diet full of dietary fibers and prebiotics is important. These can often be found in natural, plant-based foods.
Eating fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha can support gut health and be a part of a healthy diet. Taking care of your gut can promote overall health as studies suggest that impaired gut health plays a part in low-grade systemic inflammation, which is a key risk factor for heart disease.
Dehydration can lower energy levels and affect brain function, so it’s important to ensure you’re drinking enough water each day. This is about 15.5 cups for men and 11.5 cups for women. Proper hydration also promotes healthy bowel movements, skin, and kidney function.
One easy way to increase your water intake is to drink a few glasses of water with every meal. You can infuse your water with fresh herbs or fruit for natural sweetness. Use the daily water intake log below to help you track your daily intake of water; try to hit the recommended water goals for the day.
Limiting added sugars from both food and beverages in your diet is important for your overall health. Added sugars can contribute to an elevated risk for certain chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
Experiment with temporarily removing or limiting sugar from your diet. To do this, focus on whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, fish, nuts, and unprocessed foods. You can also replace table and processed sugars with natural sugar substitutes such as whole fruit, xylitol, stevia, erythritol, or monk fruit.
After the stresses of 2020, self-care is more important than ever. Self-care during COVID-19 can be a challenge, with our favorite gyms, wellness centers, or spas temporarily or even permanently closed. Luckily, there are several ways to practice self-care from the comfort and safety of your home.
Consider dedicating time each day for self-care. You could even participate in a self-care challenge to help you prioritize daily self-care tasks. Find our 30-day self-care challenge here. The important thing is to make it an activity that you enjoy and that will benefit your mental, physical, and/or emotional health.
Spending time outdoors, like going for walks, hiking, or just being around nature, can lead to significant health benefits like boosted mood and improved energy levels; plus, exposure to the sun helps your body produce vitamin D. When looking for ways to improve your health in the new year, consider scheduling time to be outside.
Especially as most of us are stuck at home, dedicating time for getting out of the house and enjoying the fresh air can help lift your spirits.
Most of us spend a lot of time at work. Unfortunately, this may also come with spending a lot of time sitting at a desk, staring at a screen, and reaching for a quick office snack in place of healthy meals. In the new year, make an effort to improve your health from your office chair.
Easy ways to do this could be swapping out unhealthy desk snacks for nutritious treats that will fuel your body, incorporating desk exercises, and taking quick mental health breaks throughout the day.
In our current climate, maintaining your health is critical. At the top of the new year, create a plan to schedule important health check-ins throughout the year. You could schedule your yearly physical or dental appointments, for example.
If you live a busy lifestyle, don’t let your health be the thing that takes a backseat. Taking an at-home health test makes it easy to check in on various areas of your health such as your thyroid, heart health, vitamin D levels, and more, from the comfort of your own home.
Use the health stickers above in your planner or calendar to help you keep track of important health dates, check-ins, or appointments.
When adopting new health habits or goals for the new year, the most important thing is to make them work for you and your body. Below are a few other health tips and intentions to consider adopting this year.
When beginning the new year, we encourage you to see this as an opportunity to improve yourself and set healthy intentions to improve all areas of your life. For more ways to prioritize your health this year, visit Everlywell.
Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics | CDC | Sleep Foundation | Mayo Clinic | National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine | Mayo Clinic | Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School