People often mention the holidays as the most wonderful time of the year, but what about during the month of January? It’s a brand new year, and a brand new chance to improve your life, your relationships, and your health.
So, how do you want to kick off 2020? What are your resolutions? You can opt to be more adventurous, more forthright, healthier, and put more time toward the hobbies and activities that inspire you the most.
Here’s a great list of 20 fun and health-boosting things to try in 2020.
1. Take A Shot Of Olive Oil — Olive oil is so good for you, and it’s full of healthy polyphenols and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s so good for you, in fact, that you might want to try a “shot” of olive oil every single day.
Of course, if the peppery flavor isn’t for you, you can include your daily shot in salad dressings or other recipes. But try to include olive oil in your daily diet as it can do a lot for your overall health. Some of its benefits include supporting the health of your heart, skin, and immune function.1,2,3
2. Try A Lectin-Free Diet — Since plants can’t run or fight like their predator enemies (aka humans), they have to defend themselves using their natural chemistry. This is why certain plants contain dangerous proteins called lectins.
Research proves that the lectins in beans (for instance) might lead to many human health concerns and discomforts like vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. By avoiding lectins, you can support the health of your body in a multitude of ways.4
3. Take 15 Minute Breaks Throughout The Day — You may feel like you need to handcuff yourself to your desk to get your boss to notice your hard work, but working without breaks can do more damage than its worth. If you motor through the day without breaks, your productivity, well-being, morale, and performance might suffer.
Taking breaks could make you a happier and more productive employee. One recent survey reports that almost 90% of American workers claim taking lunch breaks helps them feel ready for more work. So, try taking a few 15-minute breaks throughout the day to help increase your productivity, improve your mood, and allow time for other healthy habits.5
4. Get Your 10,000 Daily Steps — You don’t need a fitness tracker to make sure you’re getting the right amount of steps. If you put together about 90 minutes of walking, you’ll likely get to 10,000 steps. And why should that help? Well, one study showed that 30 participants who met their daily goal of 10,000 steps significantly lowered their anxiety levels, increased their mood, and decreased fatigue (both mental and physical).6
5. Set An Alarm To Remind Yourself To Breathe — When you get stressed out, one of your first physical responses is to cease breathing. You might hold your breath or take shallow breaths. But during times of duress, deep, mindful breathing can actually help calm you down.
Recent studies suggest that the harmful effects of stress and negative emotions might be counteracted by various types of mindful breathing techniques used in meditation and relaxation practices.7
To break this pattern, you must train yourself to remember to breathe. It’s easy to get into the routine. Just set an alarm to ring three times throughout the day as a reminder to check-in and breathe. By 2021 you might not even need the alarm.
6. Choose The Stairs, Boycott The Elevator — Think about it: What if you opted to walk the stairs and not use the elevator at your building or at work? You’d burn some serious calories. If you take the stairs every time you need to head upstairs, you could end up adding to your 90 minutes of recommended daily activity.
Believe it or not, those who climb the stairs are generally more fit and have a higher capacity for aerobic activity. In fact, climbing just a couple of flights each day can add up to approximately 6 pounds of lost weight in a single year.8
7. Don’t Go To Bed Mad — You can’t always help it, but you should try to go to bed in a decent mood. Recent research shows that anger is a risk factor for a number of negative outcomes like getting into physical altercations, experiencing interpersonal issues, and increasing negative emotions. Also, increased anger is associated with 80% greater odds for poorer sleep quality.9 So, if you’re feeling frustrated or upset before bedtime, try to cool down before falling asleep.
8. Practice Gratitude: Write Down One Thing Each Day You’re Grateful For — Gratitude is simply saying “thank you” for the good things in your life. And doing so might make you happier.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania tested the theory that gratitude could positively impact a person’s psychology. They found when participants wrote and delivered letters of gratitude to someone they’d never properly thanked for their kindness, the subjects immediately exhibited substantial increases in their happiness scores.10
9. Exercise Your Brain With Weekly Puzzles — Believe it or not, something as simple (and fun) as building a jigsaw puzzle is deeply associated with visuospatial cognition. Visuospatial cognition encompasses a large skillset (including the ability to locate certain objects, and decipher patterns). Solving jigsaw puzzles may help you tap into those skills and support your brain health.11
10. Add Prebiotic Foods To The Menu: Okra, Flaxseed, And Jicama — Maybe you started upping your probiotics game in the last few years, but prebiotics help you restock your good gut bugs. Prebiotics encourage probiotics to grow and nourish the good gut bugs already in your system.12 So, if you want to feed probiotics, try these prebiotic foods:
- Flaxseed — Not only is flaxseed an awesome source of fiber, but it’s also rich in healthy Omega-3 fats and protein. This makes flaxseed one of the strongest prebiotic foods out there. Sprinkle flaxseed atop a salad, fold them into an omelet, or add them to your favorite smoothie.
- Okra — Sure, sometimes okra can be a bit of a slimefest, but it’s cooked just right it can be downright tasty, and okra is a fabulous source of nondigestible fiber.
- Jicama — This delicious, crispy vegetable tastes like a cross between an apple and a potato. And it’s incredibly high in prebiotic fiber.
11. Try New Pressure Cooker Recipes — There are several bonuses to prepping your meals in a pressure cooker. For starters, cleanup is super easy. But more importantly, pressure cooking can help remove toxic lectins from your favorite foods like tomatoes and beans.
Additionally, pressure cooked foods tend to offer a more substantial nutritional boost than foods cooked for longer periods of time in a traditional oven or on the stove. Turns out, the longer foods are cooked, the more nutrients they lose. Pressure cooked foods are ready faster and are less likely to lose their definitive colors and flavors. Pressure cookers can reduce your meal prep time too, so give it a try in 2020.13
12. Compliment A Different Friend Or Coworker Each Week — Research suggests that the brain perceives compliments on the same level as being rewarded with money. In fact, there’s scientific proof that someone will perform better when they receive a social reward like a compliment.14 And complimenting someone else can make you feel better, too. So, be generous with your praise this year.
13. Stretch It Out Before Lights Out — Your muscles aren’t that different from rubber bands. In the way that a tight rubber band might snap, the same thing is possible when it comes to tight muscles. The more elastic your rubber bands (or muscles), the more pressure they can withstand without breaking. Stretching before you hit the hay may help to relax your muscles. It also helps make muscles more flexible, which might help prevent injuries down the line.15
14. Try Intermittent Fasting — Intermittent fasting has beneficial health effects when it comes to weight maintenance, body fat composition, heart health, and more. On a cellular level, intermittent fasting might actually help increase your body’s defenses against oxidative stress.16
15. Hydrate — How often have you heard that a person should drink 8 cups of water a day? There’s a good reason for that advice: Humans can only survive a few days without water. Water makes up about 55% — 75% of human body weight (depending on age). Water is also necessary for cellular health. Not only that, but dehydration can cause minor disruptions in your mood and brain function.17
16. Detox Your Homebase — Naturally, you want to keep your home chemical-free and “green.” Believe it or not, green plants can actually help detoxify your home. That’s because houseplants can help clean the air and remove pollutants.18 Taking care of a few houseplants might make breathing easier and help enhance the air quality within your home.
17. Curl Up With A Good Book — Ditching your screens and picking up a good book can activate your brain in ways you might not have imagined. It may sound like fiction, but curling up with a good book promotes a process called deep reading — a slow, immersive activity. As you read, you draw connections within a story and even find ways to apply what you’re learning to the outside world.19
18. Move Your Bedtime Up An Hour — Not getting the right amount of sleep can throw off some of your body’s most important physiological functions due to disruptions in your circadian rhythms. You might become unable to sleep and your digestive system could suffer, too. If you happen to shorten your sleeping patterns by staying up later, you can delay your circadian rhythms and negatively affect other behaviors and systems.20 This year, try going to bed one hour earlier than what you’re normally used to. You’ll likely notice a huge difference in the way you feel.
19. Eat An Avocado A Day — Avocados are the superfood of 2020 due to their healthy and helpful stores of omega-3 fats. When you consume omega-3 fats, you actually help your body absorb essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C. You might even assist your system in absorbing extra nutrients and antioxidants. Of course, these nutrients are believed to be able to support your…
- Brain health
- Heart health
- Immune function21,22,23
20. Give Your Time To A Good Cause — Volunteering in your community can make you feel great, and you’re providing a much-needed service. Also, you never know what new friends you could make when you rally for a certain cause that’s close to your heart.
Whether you help out at your local animal shelter or work in a food kitchen, research suggests that regularly helping others may help reduce stress and even lower your blood pressure. So, let 2020 be the year you make a personal commitment to your community — your body will thank you.24
20 Ways To Better Your Days In 2020
As 2020 begins, let it launch you into resolving to live a better, healthier life on all fronts. You can make your own list of 20 things to do in 2020, or your list can consist of three items. It’s your list and it’s your year. So, try some of these life hacks and enhance your healthcare regimen for your mind and body. Have a happy, healthy new year.