2021 is here, and for many, the start of a new year gives us the motivation we need to make healthy changes in our lives. Whether you enjoy the tradition of New Year’s resolutions or prefer setting new goals for yourself at any time of the year, improving your health can seem like a daunting task— but it doesn’t have to be.
To make sure you don’t abandon your resolutions after a month or two, make sure you’re setting SMART goals: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. This technique is a great way to keep yourself focused and accountable so that you can achieve your goals. Let’s look at some examples of SMART resolutions to make 2021 your healthiest year yet:
Drink more water: If you’re simply trying to up your intake, you can set an hourly goal for yourself, like drinking 1 glass of water every hour between 9 am and 5 pm. Another great way to do this is to replace your usual daily soda or second or third coffee with a glass of water— this way, you can cut back on sugar and stay hydrated at the same time!
Reduce screen time: Now, more than ever, we depend on our phones, computers, and TVs for both work and entertainment, which is why it’s increasingly important to take some intentional time off. Set a goal to spend no more than 30 minutes on social media daily and use your phone’s screen time feature to hold yourself accountable. Alternatively, you can build screen-free time into your daily routine, like putting your electronics in a separate room an hour before you go to bed.
Eat more fruits and vegetables: Both are necessary for you to get the vitamins and minerals you need, and together, they should make up half your plate at each meal (check out our basics of a balanced diet post to learn more!). Set a goal to eat 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables throughout the day— every meal or snack is an opportunity!
Exercise regularly: If you prefer traditional workouts, you can aim for at least four 30-minute workouts weekly. That’s not the only way to get exercise, though. If you find yourself sitting most of the day, you can start taking a 5-minute walk every two hours (walking is a great cardio exercise!).
Get more sleep: Sleep is essential for good health. Setting a bedtime for yourself and following that schedule every night helps regulate your body’s clock so that you can fall asleep faster and sleep better. How much sleep you need can vary from person to person, but most adults should get at least 7 hours per night.
Wanting to improve your health is a great decision that you should be proud of yourself for taking. If you choose to focus on any of the goals above, don’t forget to modify them as needed to make them attainable and relevant for you. Happy New Year, and as always, stay healthy and stay safe!
Does COVID-19 have you feeling stressed? Maybe depressed? Worried? Or possibly grateful? Blessed? Sometimes even happy? As each week, and sometimes each day, changes before our very eyes, I have come to realize that life during this pandemic is something that I cannot fully control nor plan out. This is coming from someone who loves to have every 30 minute-increment of the day planned out from when I wake up until I fall asleep, which basically went down the drain as soon as the quarantine started (cheers to all of the money lost by buying a 2020 calendar!). But, coming to let go of control and planning comes the realization that our emotions during this time might be on all ends of the spectrum and can cause us great grief and confusion if we do not have the accurate coping mechanisms and tools that are needed during this uncertain time. In this post, I’ll talk about the ways you can cope for some of the most commonly experienced emotions during COVID-19.
Stressed? DEPRESSED? ANXIOUS?
Get outside! Let the sun give you that much needed Vitamin D and try your best to relax.
Workout as often as you can, whether it is done inside or outside. Working out increases the production of endorphins, and like Elle Woods said, “Endorphins make you happy!”.
Keep a journal and write when you can. I find that making an entry everyday, even if it’s just a sentence or two, makes me feel better.
Distract yourself with productive work, but don’t try to not feel your emotions. It’s important to feel you feelings, but sometimes cleaning, learning something new, reading, etc,. helps to put us in another place mentally and emotionally so we can make our emotions work for us instead of against us.
All of these emotions are valid, but it is important to try our best to not live in them, as long term affects of stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to serious mental and physical health effects.
Denial? Anger? Fear?
It is completely okay to feel angry or to deny that this pandemic is happening, but we cannot control much in this situation, so it is important to try and control what you can: yourself. By making sure you follow the social-distancing and quarantining rules that are currently instated, you are helping to not only keep yourself safe, but others, too!
It’s normal to be angry that this is happening and possibly wreaking havoc on your life (mentally, financially, emotionally, physically, etc), but we cannot stay in this emotion for long, as anger and fear tend to go hand-in-hand.
If you can, try to meditate and say positive affirmations, as they will produce more positive feelings to combat the negative ones. Taking time to yourself to feel grateful and peaceful will help the fear and anger that occurs when thinking about how COVID-19 may have ruined a lot of things for us.
Remember, this will not last forever. This is just one part of our lives that is occurring and we will get through it.
Grateful? Blessed? HAPPY?
While for some it may be hard to understand how these feelings can occur right now, I have noticed that there are some who are experiencing these emotions as time goes on.
Feeling grateful/blessed/happy tends to come from looking on the bright side of things, and those who are experiencing this may be in a place where they went through the above feelings and came to the conclusion that they cannot control this situation, then became okay with that, and then remembered that will not last forever, so they decided to make the best out of the situation that they are currently in.
This may include journalling, trying to keep a bit of a new-normal schedule, and finding ways to keep busy and active.
Spending time with family and friends (social-distancing included, as usual!) will also help if you are in need of a happiness boost!
It is completely valid to feel happy that some things are cancelled and that you have more time to yourself, or that some of your responsibilities are on hold so now you have time to watch more TV/workout/relax/spend time with family/etc. This is a weird time, and finding what makes you happy is important!
We will get through this, one day at a time. The Wellness and Stress Clinic of Memphis will be open today, Monday April 20th, from 5-7:15pm. We will be offering Tele-Health Appointments during those times, which if you are interested in making an appointment, please call (901) 506-5433. If you would like any self-care tips, please refer to the “Self-Care and COVID-19” post from a few weeks ago. Stay safe and healthy, and remember to help #StopTheSpread in any way that you can.
Now more than ever is it important to quiet yourself and ask, “What do I need right now?”. Sometimes the answer might be to watch some Netflix and eat some ice cream, and sometimes it might be to journal about your feelings and experiences and cry. It is important to realize that we are going through a collectively traumatic experience, and that not everyone will be able to be as productive as they might have been before the pandemic. Not everyone will be able to do everything that they promised before the pandemic, and that’s okay. What’s most important is to remember that there are people who care about you, and that there are many tools for how to cope throughout this experience, and to know that it won’t last forever.
Here, I will share some helpful self-care options to add to your mental, physical, and emotional toolkit. Not all of these options may work for you, but I hope that this can help you to know that there are ways to help yourself during this time.
Feel your feelings
This can be done by journaling, talking to a trusted professional, loved one, or friend, and even by allowing yourself to sit with the emotions that come up. It may be uncomfortable at first, but it will help you work through the stress and anxiety that may be coming up with the uncertainty that COVID-19 brings.
Go Outside & Move
Getting your daily dose of Vitamin D has shown to help mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety disorders. Spending anywhere between 10-30 minutes everyday to every couple of days is sufficient enough, but it depends on your skin tone and whether you are already deficient in Vitamin D. As for movement, it is important to remember to move as much as possible, whether it is to walk your dog outside everyday or to have routine exercises imbedded in your new schedule, whether they’re done inside or outside.
Make sure you’re getting enough sleep every night! Naps are encouraged, being on high-alert is exhausting!
Talk to a Friend/Family Member/Trusted Professional
Text/FaceTime/Call anyone you’d like to talk to! Everyone could use a friend right now.
Lean Into Your Happy
Do you enjoy having coffee with a friend? Watching movies? Making art? Reading endless amounts of books? Lean into those things! Whatever makes you happy is worth having a spot in your everyday life.
You would be surprised at how helpful it is to add these things into your daily schedule! You deserve happiness, care, and your health. Also, please remember to practice safe social distancing practices during this time to keep others happy and healthy. If you have any health-related questions or concerns, please call the clinic at (901) 306-5433. I hope this helps, stay healthy and safe!