After the year most of us had in 2020, it’s safe to say that these days, staying healthy looks a bit different than it used to—not because the state of being healthy has actually changed, but because the perception of what health is has expanded.
Many of us have come to realize that being healthy is about the physical, the mental, and emotional, and have accepted that we need to manage our bodies, minds, and emotions in order to achieve true holistic wellness.
What that means will likely be different for each individual, but here we have some simple ideas and suggestions to help you stay healthy in 2021 and beyond.
These tips can be implemented today and can help protect your body from illness and your mind from stress and unrest.
Practice mindful breathing
The word meditation intimidates a lot of people, but an easy way to start is by learning how to breathe mindfully.
To begin, try taking a few long, deep breaths in through your nose, down to your belly, and then exhale out of your mouth when you wake up in the morning.
The quiet of those first few moments in the morning will allow you to learn how to pay attention to your breathing and how your body feels.
Then, whenever you feel overwhelmed throughout the day, do it again, listening to and feeling each breath.
Eventually, you may choose to extend the amount of time you practice and dedicate a portion of your day to it, but you can start small right now.
Go on daily walks
Many of us have been cooped up inside our homes for almost a year and may still be at home several months from now.
One way to combat the negative effects of being stuck at home most of the time is to get out for a walk every day that the weather permits.
It can be as little as five minutes around the block or for as long as your schedule permits.
Walking is a great way to get the blood circulating well throughout your body, it’s good for your heart and your muscles and the fresh air and sunshine are good for the immune system.
Unless it’s raining or snowing, try to get out for at least a few minutes each day.
Make sure you get enough vitamin D
Another bonus of walking is that it will help your body absorb more natural Vitamin D from the sun.
Vitamin D is crucial for the immune system and overall wellbeing and studies have shown that nearly half of all Americans may be suffering from Vitamin D deficiency.
Furthermore, Vitamin D deficiency can have a negative impact on individuals who contract COVID-19, since it is associated with an increase in inflammatory cytokines, increased risk of pneumonia, and other upper respiratory viral infections.
Just be sure to consult with a physician if you’re considering a Vitamin D supplement.
Take virtual fitness classes
Stay-at-home orders or a personal choice to social distance may have kept you from working out at the gym in recent months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t work out.
And, you don’t have to go it alone either. Many gyms and fitness centers are offering live virtual classes as part of your membership or for a stand-alone fee.
If that’s not in your budget, community and senior centers around the country are as well, so check with your township or city.
Additionally, there are a number of apps and websites that offer online streaming fitness classes for a very small monthly fee.
Eat more plants
We’re not going to tell you to stop eating meat if that’s not something you want to do, but we will encourage you to start eating more plant foods.
No matter how you choose to do it, eating more plant-based foods can help reduce cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar, and many of the vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in plant foods are excellent for the immune system.
So maybe you switch to one plant-based meal a day or even a week, or perhaps you choose fruit and veggies for your snacks throughout the day or you simply cut down the meat and dairy portions at every meal and add in more plants.
Whatever you choose, it’ll be good for you.
Do not, we repeat, do not, forgo check-ups or specialist visits (or especially if you have a concern about something unusual) because you’re afraid of being around people or don’t want to set foot in a hospital or medical building.
Contact your physician’s office or the hospital to find out if telehealth visits are an option, and if not you might even consider finding new providers who do.
Find a new hobby
Boredom can affect mood and mental health tremendously, and many people have found themselves feeling depressed and withdrawn due to a lack of stimulation and socializing.
Maybe in the past, you participated in an in-person book club or a knitting circle, and now you aren’t doing those things and you’ve suddenly found yourself in need of something to fill your days.
Well, maybe it’s time to find a new hobby … something you can do on your own or virtually with others.
Perhaps sign up for virtual painting or cooking classes, start birdwatching or find a few podcasts to listen to.
Wear a mask over your nose and mouth
One of the very best ways to protect yourself from illnesses is to wear a mask over your nose and mouth in public places or when you are going to be around a group of people outside of your own household.
Mask wearing is going to be an important health tool for some time to come, and something we should all try to accept and get used to doing indefinitely, for our own health and the health of those around us.
Take breaks from the news
Yes, it’s important to stay informed, but watching, listening to and reading the news these days is definitely an emotional experience.
Being informed doesn’t mean we have to allow ourselves to be constantly inundated with doom and gloom.
Perhaps, plan to check in with the news just once or twice a day or allow yourself to consume the news in small 10-15 minute increments instead of sitting in front of it for hours or letting it be your background noise.
Set a sleep schedule
Sleep should also be a priority and can have a major impact on both physical and mental health.
Try deciding on a reasonable bedtime and wake-up time for yourself and stick to it as often as possible. Put away the work, turn off the television, put your phone in another room and go to sleep.
It may take some time to get used to the routine, but before you know it, you’re sure to feel more rested.
Do some strength training
When you work to strengthen your muscles, those muscles will be better able to protect you from injury from slips and falls, will improve your balance and can help strengthen your bones.
Plus, it of course helps with weight management and can even improve your energy level.