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Simple, joyful steps to health in 2021

Good news! 2020 is over. Normally, the turn of the calendar feels like it crept up, aided by too many rushed and regretted cookies or cocktails. This year, we hope it can offer a welcome chance to finally wipe our slates clean from some of last year’s chaos. Paying attention to our health is more important than ever. Even so, major New Year’s resolution lifestyle overhauls feel like a lot in the current atmosphere. 

Instead of packing into overcrowded daily aerobics classes or eliminating shelf-stable carbs from our diets, 2021 might be a year to make small shifts in habit and mindset. Want to take advantage of the renewal of a new season’s offerings without doubling down on stress, deprivation, disruption or guilt? Here are some tips:

EMBRACE WHERE YOU ARE NOW 

It can be tempting to try to create change by looking for the areas in our lives full of dissatisfaction or regret. Yet as Jean Rioux, the owner of Jiva Yoga in Hilton Head pointed out, healthy mindsets don’t start from a negative place. 

health2She reflected on the axiom that, “No matter how far you’ve gone down a path, you can always turn around.” 

Instead of criticizing your body and letting negativity control the conversation in your head, she encourages people to, “come from a place of self-love. Show up for yourself compassionately.” 

CELEBRATE GOOD DECISIONS, NO MATTER HOW SMALL 

It’s much easier to build off success. As Rioux puts it, “do one good thing for yourself a day.” 

Then, keep track of the healthy things you did rather than regrets. In that vein, some dietitians suggest changing your diet by setting goals to do more positive things rather than restricting. 

Instead of counting calories, count grams of fiber or incorporate more good delicacies rich in healthy vitamins or protein. 

PLAN FOR DISRUPTION 

Last year was an unending cycle of “hurry up, then wait.” This year is likely to start off the same way with shifts in vaccination availability, guidelines or mandates regarding gatherings or distancing. This year, we have the advantage of forewarning, as the current events function like road signs announcing we should “expect delays.” 

Andrea Roberts, the COO of HHI Hospitality Group, runs Hilton Head’s Healthy Habit eatery. She emphasizes that thinking ahead is the difference between a healthy choice and a makeshift lunch from a drive-thru or vending machine: “By planning for life’s curveballs in advance, you are formulating a realistic game plan that will work with the daily ebb and flow of life’s realities.” 

PRIORITIZE JOY

Countless minimalists have told us to focus on “what brings joy,” and they are right. Endorphins and oxytocin, natural hormones that come from movement and pleasure are both keys to good health and hard to come by when we’re isolating at home. Plenty of things can still bring us joy if we treat ourselves well. Try including special ingredients for a delicious sounding, indulgent healthy recipe on your weekly grocery list. Take walks or bike in the sun, play a socially distanced tennis game, or try your hand at growing fresh herbs in the garden.

BE OPEN WHEN OPPORTUNITY COMES: Disruption can be good or bad; you get to decide if it’s an annoyance or an opportunity. That traffic jam can become a sing-along when your kids’ devices lose their connection. A shift in work environment may eliminate commute time and open up a morning walk around your neighborhood. Embrace the adventure of change whenever you can.

Optimism works. With a little bit of grace and a realistic but positive outlook, 2021 can definitely bring about change for the better.