Every year I make a long list of goals that I want to accomplish in the next 365 days. Last year, I only got 5 out of my 20 goals done, and it makes me feel sad that I didn’t get everything done. Now I do cut myself some slack because 2020 was the year of lockdown, and we couldn’t leave our houses. With this new year, I wanted to focus more on lifestyle changes more than setting goals for myself. I want to change my habits to become a better person.
When I created this list, I started by making a list of ways that I wanted to feel at the end of this year. I wanted to be happier, have a more positive outlook, be grateful, more knowledgeable, and healthier. Then I thought of activities that I could do every day that would make me feel that way. What can I do to be a more positive person, how can I practice being more grateful, how do I become healthier?
The five items below are changes that I want to make in my life to be happier and healthier. They are small changes that I can do every day that will make a big impact on my overall well-being.
NO PHONE IN THE MORNING
The main goal that I want to stick with this year is not using my phone immediately when I wake up in the morning. I have had a phone on my nightstand next to my bed for the past 10-years. I would always wake up and grab my phone right away to check social media. I didn’t want to miss out on anything, whether that be notifications on Twitter or Instagram. I also always felt the need to know what was going on around the world in the news.
I never thought that this habit could be doing damage to me, but it is. It wasn’t until I did some research and had my therapist point out what checking your phone in the morning makes you feel about yourself and your to-do list. I learned that when you wake up and immediately look at your phone, you are intentionally making yourself feel overwhelmed and stressed out. Checking your notifications or emails can make you feel like you’re already behind in your day because others have already accomplished tasks while you have been sleeping. Flooding your brain with all this information right when you get out of bed can immediately make you feel lousy.
With me being at home all the time during the COVID pandemic, it has forced me to slow down and fill my day with other activities. I discovered my love for reading and bought so many books that seemed interesting to me. I have a goal this year to read 15 books in 2021. I don’t think I will have any problem reaching this goal because I have a large pile of books that I bought myself.
One of the ways that I make sure to read every day is to set aside an allotted amount of time to read, which could be for 30 minutes to an hour. I try to read an entire chapter at a time so, I know that I need to sit in a quiet space with no distractions. During the colder months, I like to sit in a comfy chair in our living room with a cozy blanket and a mug of coffee or hot chocolate. During the summer/ warmer months, I love to sit outside in the grass or by the pool to read while drinking iced tea.
FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE
I think of myself as a very optimistic person, and I love looking at the positive side of things. In 2020 I struggled, just like everyone else, to stay positive and not focus so much on the negative things happening in the world. The ways I do this is through positive affirmations, gratitude journals, and choosing to focus on the positive parts of life.
Last year I read two amazing books by Rachel Hollis about developing new habits in our daily lives. I loved the idea of writing a daily gratitude list every morning that focused on the smaller positive things in our life. We are all grateful for our families, our health, and the roof over our heads. But Rachel Hollis wants you to identify five smaller positive things that you are grateful that happened during your day. That could be a delicious cup of coffee, getting to see a friend you haven’t seen in a while, spending quality time with your significant other, finding a new book or tv show, or even just liking what you saw on your walk outside.
I have also been working on being kinder to myself. I do this by starting my day with positive affirmations. We all tend to be hardest on ourselves and talk negatively about what we’re doing or feeling. This act can be very harmful over time, and we all need to be more mindful of that voice in our heads and respond to negative thinking with more positive messaging.
Here are some affirmations that I love to say to myself every morning:
GO TO THERAPY
I believe that everyone needs to go to therapy. There is such a benefit of talking to a professional about your life and the challenges you face.
There has always been a stigma around going to see a therapist, that only crazy, unstable people go to therapy. It’s worth noting that that is NOT what therapy implies. It’s healthy to talk to someone whether you are going through difficulties at home or in your career, relationship, or you just need someone to talk to and help you become a better person. You can learn so much about yourself in therapy. A therapist can help you get a new perspective about life, grow steadily and away from life challenges, and become a stronger person.
I signed up for virtual therapy right before the 2021 new year, and that is the best way to end a year and begin a new one. My insurance didn’t cover mental health therapy sessions, so I sought out an online therapist and found Better Help. I have weekly one hour sessions with my amazing therapist, where we talk about my daily life, goals I have, and things that I can further work on each week.
EAT HOMECOOKED MEALS
One of my new year’s resolutions for 2021 is to cook more at home. I love to cook but, I don’t consider myself to be a skilled cook or baker. This year I want to learn more recipes and develop my cooking skills. So I made it a point each Monday to plan out what meals we’re going to eat every day and then only buy those ingredients at the grocery store.
According to Harvard Health, the more you cook, the healthier you live. People who frequently cook dinner at home consume fewer calories than those who cook less, according to a study of more than 9,000 people. These findings also suggest that those who frequently cook at home—six to seven nights a week—also consume fewer calories on the occasions when they eat out.
One of the ways I’m going to make cooking fun is by picking out fun recipes that I want to make from online blogs, food magazines, and cookbooks. I saw this fun challenge on TikTok where people are cooking their way through cookbooks. So I chose to cook my way through the Joanna Gaines Magnolia Home cookbook. I bought the cookbook and have already picked out all the recipes that I want to make first. Stay tuned for the best recipes to be posted to my blog!