Scrap 2020, make 2021 'Your Year!'

Updated: Jan 28

Its not too early to start setting goals for 2021. For many of us 2020 didn't turn out quite as we planned. And if you have perfected all that you set out to achieve already good for you, but why not take the plunge and work on some other areas? Here are 10 essential healthy tips aimed to help you 'smash' 2021!

1. Foster a positive mind-set. We all know the famous saying; “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny”, the Dalai Lama sure knows his stuff. If you want a life filled with happiness and positivity that is the energy you need to harbour. Research has shown that positive thinking is in fact linked to personality traits such as optimism, and can in turn effect many areas of our health and well-being.



2. Wake up early. If you told me a few years ago I would be a ‘morning person’ I would look at you and laugh. But waking up early has a vast array of benefits, all of which I can now vouch for. It allows your body to be in tune with its natural circadian rhythm, you feel more alert by the time 9 am and professional working hours commence, it is a more peaceful time of day, you have time to have a hearty breakfast, you will be less stressed, and foster a more positive mind-set.


3. Sleep. This essential process allows the body to restore itself. Research has linked it to memory, stronger immunity and reduced rates of medical conditions such as obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The amount of sleep we require to function depends on a vast repertoire of variables including age, gender and state of physical health. However research has found quality is in fact more important than quantity [1]. Therefore we should be paying more attention to our sleep routine rather than how many hours we spend in bed in order to ensure a decent nights rest [1].



4. Get active. Increase your EAT, and no that doesn’t mean eat more. EAT stands for exercise associated thermogenesis. There are so many different sports to try, there has to be one out there that you'll enjoy. Each offers different benefits to its participant including the opportunity to increase your social network.


5. Increase your NEAT, non-exercise activity thermogenesis. This is the energy that we utilise for everyday activities other than sleeping, eating and sports exercise. NEAT can be effected by our occupation, leisure, state of health, seasonal variation, environment, gender, biological influences, mind-set [2], and in turn has been shown to have a massive impact on our state of health. We can increase our NEAT by making simple decisions throughout our day, such as taking the stairs rather than the lift.



6. Get outdoors. The rise of urbanisation and decline in our exposure to natural environments could potentially be having a detrimental effect on our health. The ‘great outdoors’ plays an important role mentally and physically, from short term recovery to long term improvements [3]. Furthermore the combination of exercise and exposure to nature has been suggested to be a powerful tool to aid in the fight against physical inactivity and non-communicable disease, as well as being more beneficial to mental health activities [4].


7. Eat in tune with your body. Food plays and important role in our life's, it provides us with the essential energy and nutrients we need to carry out bodily processes, aiding in growth, development and function [5]. Our food choices can be effected by culture, season, genetics, age, disease and availability. The same food that may be causing one individual to function at optimum may be causing another serious illness, ‘One person’s fuel is another’s poison’. Listen to your body and work out what’s right for you.



8. Enjoy your career. The sad reality is that the activity you may spend most of your time doing is working, therefore it is key to ensure you are on a career path you enjoy, and that is true to your purpose. Easier said than done, right? Society teaches us to play it safe but really we need to do is ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ or you may just be living with a big “what if?”


9. Strengthen your support system. In today’s world there appears to be increasing amounts of loneliness. Strange, as there appears to be more and more people on this planet. Your support system has been shown to have a high impact on health, behaviour and even our mortality risk [6].



10. Be aware of your purpose. Current scientific and popular literature suggests that this in fact plays a crucial role in health. What are you compelled to do? What gives you joy, makes your eyes sparkle and your heart beat stronger? What did you enter this world to do? What do you want to be remembered for when you depart? By exploring different things in your life you will come to know deep within you what your heart desires. Sometimes this may involve going against your head, breaking away from society's expectations of security via authenticity rather than conformity. Embracing change and growth. When you combine your passions with your daily actions and live in the moment you will live a purposeful life [7]. Always stay true to your purpose and honour it in everything you do, it will carve the way to a more joyful fulfilled life.

What are 3 goals you want to achieve in 2021?

What 3 action steps can you take to achieve each of your 3 goals?

Write them down and start taking action today.




References

[1] Piltcher, J.J. et al., 1997, Sleep quality versus sleep quantity: Relationships between sleep and measures of health, well-being and sleepiness in college students, Journal of Psychometric Research, vol. 42 issu. 6, pp. 583-586.

[2] Levine, J. A. et al., 2006, Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): environment and biology, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, vol. 26 issu. 2, pp. 729-736.

[3] Pearson, D. G. and Craig, T., The great outdoors? Exploring the mental health benefits of natural environments, Frontiers in Psychology.

[4] Gladwell, V. F. et al., 2013, The great outdoors: how a green exercise environment can benefit all, Extreme Physio Med,vol. 2, issue. 3.

[5] Winkler, M., The Importance of Food in Our Lives: Finding Balance Even When We Cannot Eat, 'http://oley.org/?page=FindBalanceCantEat', Accessed on: 01/02/2018.

[6] Umberson, d., and Montez, J. K., 2010, Social relationships and health: A flashpoint for health policies, of Health and Social Behaviour.

[7] Kiser, S., 3 Unexpected Ways to Find Your Life Purpose by Shannon Kaiser, https://www.huffingtonpost.com/shannon-kaiser/3-unexpected-ways-to-find_b_5176511.html, Accessed on: 10/01/2018