The start of a new year is typically the time when everyone commits to a new goal or venture but, after a year of uncertainty, it is important to remember that self-care and compassion should take priority. With this in mind, I have put together a list of habits that will ensure a healthy and happy 2021, even in social isolation.
- Limit the amount of time spent online
It is scary just how much screen time an individual can accumulate, and this has only been exacerbated by the global pandemic. We rely on our phones for daily news updates and staying in touch with loved ones whilst social distancing, however this online world is not conducive to good mental health.
This year, I plan to set limits on my devices. I want to enjoy more occasions with my friends and family rather than being preoccupied with capturing the moment in a photograph. By giving my brain and nervous system a chance to restore, away from the internet and social media, I hope that 2021 will bring more clarity and happiness.
- Stay hydrated
Water is an incredibly underrated tool for ensuring our bodies remain in balance; it is recommended that adults drink a minimum of 2 litres per day. If you are not drinking enough water, set a goal to drink a certain amount each day and gradually increase it.
- Eat a varied and balanced diet
Along with water, our bodies need a varied and nutritious diet to flourish. Eating fresh-foods and having a colourful plate of food will help to combat fatigue and leave you feeling happy and healthy.
- Spend more time outdoors
Most people do not spend enough time in the fresh air despite the well reported health benefits, including boosting feelings of positivity and alleviating anxiety. It can also be a great way to find clarity and clear out any brain fog from a hard day of university work. Make a pledge to get out and about at least once a day, you will not regret it!
- Check-in with yourself
It is easy to feel discouraged and overwhelmed by University life and so it is important to show yourself some compassion. Make a habit of checking in with yourself every evening. During this time, think of at least one thing that you did well and focus on it. This is a great way to end each day on a high and set yourself up for a good night’s sleep.
- Ask for help
There is no award for doing everything yourself, something I am notoriously guilty of. Make a habit of asking for assistance in an effort to alleviate some of your daily pressures. It could be as simple as asking your housemate to pick something up from the shop whilst they are there; remember, every little helps!
- Engage in gentle daily movement
Every year, I listen to various elaborate training plans that would rival the regimen of a professional athlete. And every year, I just smile and nod agreeably, knowing that they will not last very long.
If you are new to exercise, it is important to start gently and build up gradually. Learn to appreciate lighter movement like walking and yoga to nourish your body rather than punish it.
- Practice mindfulness and meditation
A positive mindset is essential for achieving your goals and feeling content. Find the time for a mindfulness practise each day and choose your own personal affirmation to meditate on.
- Learn to say ‘no’
Saying ‘no’ does not make you a bad person, although I do struggle with this concept. This year I want to learn the art of saying ‘no’ to the things that I cannot facilitate within my busy schedule. Who is with me?
- Make time for enjoyable activities
Engaging in actions that bring about joy is an incredible way to relive stress, boost cognitive patterns and promote good health. Yet, so often, they are neglected because of the assumption that they are not essential. This year, I am going to ensure that I make time for my hobbies and enjoy every moment.
- Forgive yourself
As humans, it is natural to give ourselves a hard time. I find self-forgiveness an incredibly difficult practice but one which I am determined to master. It is time that we all let go of the past and stopped holding onto our mistakes.
- Rest up
It is quite common that when individuals run out of time, they reduce the amount of time spent asleep. But in reality, we actually need more sleep to make the most out of our day. The recommendation for adults is 8 hours sleep per night. If you are short on rest, then now is the time to change.
The new semester marks a fresh start for all of us. But that does not mean setting unrealistic goals that do not bring about pleasure. When you set an intention, be gentle with yourself and adopt a healthy habit that you enjoy implementing into your life.