As we kick off a brand-new decade in 2020, it’s time to get healthy! All over the world, many of us are resolved to be healthy and get fitter and happier for the New Year, throwing out the junk food and starting ambitious new exercise regimes. However, it’s a sad truth that by the end of January most of us will have abandoned the annual health kick, and fallen back into old habits.
To really be healthy for 2020 you’ll need to ditch the fat diets and unrealistic gym sessions, and instead focus on making healthier choices in a sustainable way. The New Year is the perfect time to reflect on life and think about the changes you need to make in order to improve your health, fitness and wellbeing. What’s more, making the right decisions now can have incredible benefits for your state of mind, productivity, motivation and general happiness.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle requires much more than simply changing your diet or increasing exercise levels, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. To help you get 2020 off to a flying start, we’ve put together a list of 5 fantastic ways to get healthy and happy for the year ahead!
Step 1: Eat Better Meals
Eating better food can have a remarkable impact on your health and quality of life – as the old saying goes, ‘you are what you eat’. Our modern diets contain an abundance of processed foods, meaning that we’re not always aware of what we’re putting into our bodies.
To get healthy in 2020 you’ll need to eat better not less, which means making nutritious meal choices and becoming more conscious of what exactly goes into your food. If your 2020 goal is to eat better meals, here’s a few tips to help you get started.
Eat More Greens
One of the best things you can do for your body right now is to eat more greens. A plant-based diet has been shown to be a great way to gain a wide variety of essential nutrients, reduce your carbon footprint and lose excess weight. On the other hand, what happens if you don’t eat vegetables can be quite shocking – you may be at increased risk of digestive disorders, cancer, weight gain and diabetes.
There are so many delicious ways to cook and prepare vegetables and incorporate them into your diet, and you don’t need to be perfect. Try to eat a salad instead of a grilled cheese sandwich at lunchtime next, or replace meat with veggies the next time you whip up a tasty pasta dish? In short – vegetables are delicious, nutritious, and your body will thank you for them!
Eat More Natural Food
Eating more natural food is an excellent way to improve your health, but it can be difficult to incorporate natural foods into modern diets. Recent decades have seen a tremendous rise in heavily processed foods, which are often packed with calories, salt and sugar and can be very harmful to overall health.
Indeed, according to recent studies, the chemicals found in heavily processed meats may even cause cancer, so it’s best to avoid them if you can. Instead, avoid processed foods and go for natural food instead, cooking healthy meals from simple ingredients.
Eat Whole Grain Foods
Some of the most important nutrients in our diets come from whole grain foods, but sadly, few of us get enough of these into our daily menu. Instead, we tend to favor refined grains, which have many of their health benefits stripped from them and which can contribute to obesity and inflammation.
Whole grain foods such as oats, barley, wild rice and quinoa are packed with vitamins and nutrients, and have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and some cancers. They are also extremely important in promoting gut health. While the fad is to eliminate all carbs, there are many benefits from getting as many whole grain foods into your diet as possible, and you’ll soon start to reap the benefits!
Eat More Homemade Food
Eating homemade food is an excellent way to keep track of what you’re putting into your body. While processed ready-meals often contain lots of hidden ingredients and chemicals, homemade food is typically simple, made with healthy, natural ingredients, and usually contains a much lower level of salt.
You also save money by buying healthy, nutritious ingredients and cooking up some of your favorite dishes from scratch. What’s more, making food at home is not only good for your health and your wallet. It’s also a fun activity to share with the entire family! Try using cookbooks and recipe sites for new inspiration, and get creative with your home cooking this year.
Reduce Salt and Sugar Intake
Salt and sugar are essential elements in a healthy diet, but unfortunately, most of our modern food contains far too much of them. In particular, high sugar levels have been linked to type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other health problems, while high salt intake can increase your blood pressure and lead to cardiac issues.
Cooking your own meals using varied, natural ingredients and sticking to a plant-based diet can help to reduce your salt and sugar intake, without compromising on taste and pleasure (also essential elements of any diet!).
Step 2: Stay Active
Exercise is a crucial element of any healthy lifestyle, and it’s increasingly important to stay active as we age. If you’re tied to a desk job it can be difficult to find time to exercise and be active, but the dangers of a life spent sitting down have been demonstrated in a number of recent studies. Research indicates that people who spend long periods of time sitting or inactive can increase their chance of a heart attack by a staggering 147%.
Regular, moderate, physical activity will help you keep your weight under control, improve flexibility and strength, and can help keep your mind sharp. What’s more, it’s fun! Find a type of exercise that you enjoy, and incorporate more activity into your life this year. Here are a few ideas to help you get moving.
Exercise More Often
Regular exercise is key to healthy living, and absolutely necessary in order to counteract the negative impact of modern, sedentary lifestyles. However, the good news is that it doesn’t matter what kind of exercise you choose – all you need to do is make sure that you move more! Whether you like to pound the pavements, lift weights, stretch out at a yoga class, or take up dancing, you’ll reap the benefits as long as you get your heart rate going on a daily basis.
So don’t focus so much on what you do, and instead aim to exercise more regularly this year. It’ll boost your mood, productivity, and energy, and keep your body fit and trim.
Go For Long Walks More Often
You don’t need to run a marathon to get in shape – long walks can be just as effective for getting you fit as those sweaty sessions in the gym! If you’re short on time, try building long walks into your daily routine. You could walk to work instead of taking the bus or car, or take a walk in the park during your lunch break at work instead of surfing the internet. Incremental changes that build more exercise into your life can have a big impact – every little helps!
If you’re looking for a fun way to boost your activity levels this year, go hiking! Walking in the countryside has been shown to have fantastic benefits for your health, well-being and general fitness. Scaling a big hill is an excellent way to get fit, and could be a good option if you have joint issues or are worried about taking on high-impact sports.
Not only is hiking good for your physical health, but getting out into nature is also great for your mental health, and will leave you feeling relaxed, energized, and better prepared to deal with the stresses of daily life. Give yourself a treat and organize a hiking weekend getaway for 2020!
Go Cycling More Often
Getting around on two wheels is fun, good for you and can dramatically reduce your carbon footprint – three great reasons to go cycling more often! Save on gas and transport costs by jumping on your bike to get to work. This is an excellent way to build physical activity into your day, and you’ll start to improve your physical fitness without evening noticing.
Join A Gym
One of the most popular ways to get fit is to join a gym. Gyms bring a whole host of benefits for those looking to transform their health – fitness equipment and facilities, access to group classes, personal training and consultations, and a social environment that can make exercising much more fun. Gyms can be a good option for those looking for commitment and accountability, and who want to create a diverse, personalized fitness regime that will bring lasting change.
If you’re new to a gym, invest in some personal training so you gain experience and master your new exercises, ensuring you have less likelihood of injury and you’re more efficient with your time at the gym.
Step 3: Improve your Mental Health
While we often focus mostly on getting healthy in terms of our physical health and weight, we need to spend more time maintaining our mental health. It’s been shown many of our physical ailments are correlated to stress or other mental health issues. So even if you’re feeling good about your mental health, make sure you maintain it with these tips.
Spend Time With Family and Friends
Health isn’t just about diet and exercise – if you want to improve your quality of life, it’s important to make sure that you spend time with family and friends. Humans are social animals, and spending time with others has been shown to have all kinds of health benefits. A positive social network can help you deal effectively with stress, contribute to longer life, and even improve cardiovascular health.
Consider meditation as a way to improve your health this year. Meditation is an ancient practice found in many cultures, but in recent years it has become a mainstay of Western wellness regimes. It has been shown to have many health benefits, improving focus and concentration, reducing anxiety and stress, lowering blood pressure and increasing mindfulness. Take five minutes out of your daily morning routine for a short, simple meditation that will get your day off to a positive start.
Get More Quality Sleep
If there’s just one thing you are going to do to improve your health this year, focus on getting more quality sleep. Lack of sleep is at the root of many modern health problems, including cardiovascular disease, obesity, high blood pressure and stroke.
To improve the quality of your sleep, make sure not to eat too late in the evening, keep your bedroom at a cool temperature, and turn off smartphones and screens at least an hour before you go to sleep. Transform your sleep regime for 2020 and you’re likely to see a wholesale improvement in your overall health and happiness.
Listen To Relaxing Music
Music has the power to evoke strong emotions – it can make you cry, laugh or sing out with joy. However, you might not realize it, but music can also have extremely positive health benefits. Studies have shown that listening to relaxing or uplifting music can reduce stress, help with insomnia, reduce anxiety, improve memory functions and even ease chronic pain. Make time in your day to listen to relaxing music instead of watching TV shows or rolling news coverage. It might just be the thing to lift your spirits.
Reduce Your Time Spent On Technology
Studies have also shown that our interpersonal relationships can be adversely affected by technology and busy modern lifestyles. The rise of the smartphone has allowed us to stay connected like never before, but paradoxically, it can also mean that we neglect the people around us! A digital detox might sound like a challenge, but it can have significant benefits for your mental health. Make it your 2020 resolution to ditch the tech and focus on quality time and experiences with the people you love.
Technology, particularly computers and smartphones, has come to dominate our daily lives, and it’s now difficult to imagine a world where you aren’t constantly connected to the internet! Although these devices have brought great benefits, it’s not healthy to spend so much time on your phone. Excessive technology use can disrupt sleep patterns, increase stress and depression, and encourage a sedentary lifestyle. To improve your overall health and wellbeing, try to reduce the time you spend on technology every day.
8 Great Tips On How To Use Your Smartphone Less
If you want to reduce the time you spend on your phones, tablets or computers, but don’t know where to start, then you’re in the right place. Learning how to use your smartphone less can be tricky! Tech addiction is real, and many of us have developed compulsive habits when it comes to reading messages or checking social media on our smartphones. To help you out, we’ve put together a few top tips to help you use your smartphone less this year.
Use Airplane Mode More Often
One of the reasons that checking your phone can be so compulsive is the fact that it’s constantly buzzing and blinking as people attempt to get in touch. It can be difficult to ignore that constant flashing light, so if you’re not waiting for something urgent, activate airplane mode. That way you can concentrate on the real world and stay in the moment, without any digital distractions.
Delete Your Social Media Apps
Smartphone apps can be fun, but when they start to take control of your life it’s time to get rid of them. Instead, only use social media on your computer, and delete your apps from your phone. That way you can be sure that you won’t be spending time on Facebook and Instagram while you should be devoting your attention to your real friends! This is especially important if you find that using social media are making you upset, angry or negatively impacting your mood.
Get A Hobby
Smartphones encourage us to document every aspect of our lives, and as a result we often spend more time posting pictures than actually enjoying the things we are doing!
Make a conscious effort to switch off your phone and throw yourself into a new project or hobby. Is there a skill or a craft you’ve always wanted to learn? Whether it’s learning a musical instrument, carpentry, knitting, or painting, you’ll get much more out of it if you take it offline. New hobbies can be fun, social, creative and encourage mindfulness – the perfect antidote if you’re suffering from a digital overload.
Turn Off Notifications On Your Phone
Switching to airplane mode is the best way to avoid that compulsive, phone-checking behavior. However, sometimes you may need to keep your phone on to remain contactable. If that’s the case, the next best option is to turn off all notifications on your phone. This way, you’ll only ever pull it out when you really need it, and you won’t be tempted to open up those social media apps.
Figure Out Your Relationship With Technology
One of the biggest problems with modern technology use is that few of us ever stop to reflect on how and why we use our phones. The New Year is an excellent time for a digital detox, and can provide the space to redefine our relationship to technology. Are you spending too much time on your phone? Why do you use it? What does your smartphone bring to your life and is it having any negative effects? Sometimes, just asking the simple questions can really help you to reframe the way you interact with technology.
Use Specialized Apps
Ironically, the answer to modern technology addiction may actually lie in your smartphone! There are now many apps on the market that will help you to reduce your smartphone use, by allowing you set limits and reminding you to take a break when you exceed them. This can be a good way to become more conscious of exactly how much time you are spending on your phone, and help you take back control of your life.
Just Leave It At Home
Letting go of your phone completely can feel like a terrifying thing to do, but rest easy – life will go on if you leave your phone at home! You’re likely to be more present and engaged in your environment, and you won’t feel the need to keep pulling out your phone to check it. In fact, leaving your phone at home can be strangely liberating, so why not give it a try in 2020!
Turn It Off
Turning off our phones is one of the tips we used most in 2019. When we want to spend time with other people, especially loved ones, we have started to turn our phones off and putting our phones in another room. It’s actually quite liberating to do this, and ensures you are 100% present for the people you care about.
Step 4: Learn How To Laugh More
It may sound simple, but one of the best things you can do for your health in 2020 is to learn how to laugh more. Life in the 21st century can be stressful, and despite all the benefits of modern technology, many of us experience anxiety on a daily basis. Anxiety and stress contribute to a whole host of health problems, including insomnia, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and poor mental health. So give yourself a break and take some time to relax this year.
Surround Yourself With Positive People
Being around more positive people will tend to make you more positive. It may sound like a simple statement, but human beings are highly susceptible to their social environment, and if someone around you is bringing you down, it might be time to reevaluate the relatioship. If you can surround yourself with positive people, their positive energy will rub off on you, and you’ll be far more likely to see the glass half full.
Learn How To Get Rid Of Negative Thoughts
That said, sometimes we all need a little help to learn how to get rid of negative thoughts. Rolling news coverage, hostile social media, financial anxiety and professional stress are all features of modern life and can adversely affect our mental health. Keep anxiety and stress at bay by training yourself to banish negative thoughts and focus on positive action. Often a licenced therapist can help with strategies to combat negative thinking.
Step 5: Always Plan Your Next Adventure
In those dark January months, after the festive season has come and gone, the summer vacation season can seem very far away. However, it’s never too early to start planning your next adventure!
Having things to look forward to is a key part of maintaining positivity and good mental health. It doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or challenging – just make sure you always have something on the horizon that gets you excited. The best way we’ve found is to start planning your next great adventure as soon as you get home from an adventure. This way you are always planning or on an adventure! Who can’t love that?
Plan A Trip
Travel is a wonderful way to see and learn about the world, so why not plan a trip somewhere new and exciting, and get your 2020 off to a good start? You might have a travel bucket list that includes far-off destinations and exotic climes, or you may simply wish to escape somewhere close to home for a weekend break.
In fact, just thinking about where to go can improve your mood. Researching options for your next adventure and seeing the beautiful places around the world can get you excited for your next big trip!
If you want to really get back to basics and connect with nature, go camping! Studies have shown that sleeping outdoors can help you combat insomnia, restore your circadian rhythms and connect more deeply with your environment. It’s also an excellent way to build wonderful memories with your family, and great fun to do with kids.
Believe it not, many of the best campsites require booking in winter or early spring, so just because it’s snowy outside doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be thinking about your summer camping trip!
Learn A New Cooking Recipe
Adventures don’t have to be complicated or out of doors – simply learning a new cooking recipe can be a fantastic way to pass a rainy weekend afternoon! Learning to cook a new dish is fun, challenging, and will bring joy to the whole family. Cooking also allows you to eat more economically and healthier.
So, get creative with your cooking and set yourself the challenge of learning a new recipe each week. Better yet, invite some friends over and do it together, enjoying a great evening of chatting, laughing and great food.
Learn A New Skill
If you want to stay young at heart, make it your New Year’s resolution to learn a new skill. Studies have shown that learning doesn’t stop as we get older, and it’s a myth that adult brains are incapable of taking on new languages or musical instruments. Learning a new skill is a wonderful way to channel your creative impulses and will keep your mind active, flexible and sharp.
Visit A New Destination
Old habits might die hard, but this year, make it your mission to get out of your comfort zone and visit a new destination. As the saying goes, ‘a change is as good as a rest’, and visiting some place new might just be what’s needed to boost your health and wellbeing. Make 2020 the year you explore somewhere completely new, whether it’s a nearby location that you’ve never had the chance to see before, or somewhere faraway, wild and mysterious.