5 Great Ways To Ring In 2021
By now, the idea of a New Year’s resolution might sound a bit cliché. You exchange resolution ideas with friends and family, however extravagant they may be — but by February, the motivation to carry out those goals begins to fade, and another new year is met with empty promises.
However, last year was anything but ordinary, and most of us couldn’t wait to count down the closing seconds of 2020. And with a new year come new aspirations, so we need to do our part in order to sustain our healthy aging journeys. This is why we need continue to support our bodies through 2021 and beyond!
With that in mind, let’s examine five healthy tips that will help you kick off 2021 on the right foot.
1. Start From Within
The frigid temperatures that come with a fresh calendar year aren’t always enjoyable, but that shouldn’t stop you from accomplishing your goals! In order to carry out our New Year’s resolutions, we need to support vital functions throughout our bodies, especially the immune system. This complex network of cells, tissues, and organs work together to help the body fight off bacteria, viruses, and other external threats.
Immune health is important at all times, but there is evidence that exposure to cold temperatures suppresses the immune system, according to Harvard Medical School. To expand on this, a 2015 study found that immune system cells initiate a more robust antiviral defense at lung temperature versus nasal cavity temperature. This may imply that the body does not fight off threats as well when the temperature in the nose and upper airway is lowered by the cold weather.
So, how do we support our immune system during the coldest times of the year? Fortunately, there are multiple modes of action to take when it comes to immune support. Harvard Medical School lists regular exercise, a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, adequate sleep, and stress minimization as healthy ways to boost our immune systems.
And we can of course go beyond “eating right” to help our immune system stay strong. There are many vitamins, minerals, and botanicals that work to activate, regulate, and defend our immune systems. Primary among these are Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Zinc, Quercetin, and Elderberry. And while food sources can help us get some of what we need, nutritional supplements are a great way to fill in the gaps in our daily diet.
2. Support Your Physical Health
If you belong to a gym, you’ve probably noticed more people around you at the start of a new year. That is because many of your fellow gym goers made a resolution to work out more than they have in the previous year. However, given the current circumstances, your gym will either need to abide by strict social distancing protocols or remain closed until things revert back to normal. As a result, many of us have had to scramble for alternative ways to workout. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to work out from the comfort of your home, as demonstrated by Healthline’s “30 Moves To Make The Most Of Your At-Home Workout.”
But supporting your physical health does not stop there, as nourishing your body with plenty of nutrients is vital as well. Focus on these key vitamins and minerals in the new year:
Vitamin D: According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, Vitamin D in involved in various physical processes and plays a role in immune function, positive mood, bone strength, heart health, and more. Food sources include fatty fish, fortified milk, and fortified cereal.
Vitamin B12: This essential vitamin boosts healthy energy and improves memory, says Healthline. Food sources include meat, poultry, milk, and fortified cereal.
Calcium: The Mayo Clinic states that Calcium helps build and maintain strong bones and is required for heart muscle action and nerve function. Food sources include dairy (especially milk), dark-green leafy vegetables, and seafood such as sardines and salmon (with the bones).
Magnesium: According to the Mayo Clinic, Magnesium supports muscle and nerve function, along with healthy energy levels. Plus, Magnesium supports cardio health, brain function, and a positive mood as well. Food sources include green leafy vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Potassium: Potassium is required for normal functioning of cells, muscles, and nerves. It is vital for synthesizing protein and metabolizing carbohydrates as well, according to Harvard Medical School. Food sources include fruit (especially bananas), vegetables, meat, and dairy.
3. Give Your Brain A Workout Too!
Aside from supporting our physical health, we need to make sure our brains are receiving enough attention as well. Besides, what’s the point of making New Year’s resolutions if sharpening your mind is not included?
As previously stated, there are plenty of vitamins and minerals that support brain health. Some vitamins, such as Vitamin D, have been extensively studied to show its association with cognitive function. For example, “The Role of Vitamin D in Brain Health: A Mini Literature Review” states that Vitamin D is “essential to maintain important functions of the body such as calcium homeostasis, maintenance of skeleton integrity, and neurodevelopment.”
Magnesium is also among the top minerals for brain health. According to Healthline, this particular mineral plays an important role in relaying signals between the brain and body. On top of this, Magnesium doubles as a “gatekeeper” for N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. These receptors are present in our nerve cells and help in brain development, memory, and learning.
4. Get Enough Sleep
This may sound like an easy task to accomplish, but most people struggle to get an adequate amount of sleep per night, according to Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. In fact, a staggering 1 in 3 adults do not get enough sleep, even though it is critical for good health. This troubling statistic is still problematic while we work from home, as Americans are just as busy and productive as when they reported to the actual office (more on this later).
To make matters worse, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommends that adults aged 18–60 years sleep at least 7 hours each night to promote optimal health and well-being — and we all know that is not happening as much as it should! However, failure to do so heightens the risk of developing obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and frequent mental distress, according to the CDC.
Fortunately, there are ways to remedy your sleep-deprivation woes. Melatonin has gained considerable popularity in promoting healthy sleep habits and is often used as a sleep aid to combat insomnia, according to Healthline. The importance of this hormone extends beyond insomnia, however, as Melatonin is responsible for managing our natural sleep cycles by controlling circadian rhythm.
A recent review, titled “Sleep Deprivation,” notes that roughly 50-70 million Americans are affected by sleep loss. Some common causes for lack of sleep include longer work hours and having greater access to television and the internet. These reasons factor into why people do not get enough sleep, and certainly impact the body’s ability to unwind. This is where Melatonin comes into play!
Frontiers in Endocrinology, a peer-reviewed research journal that focuses on basic molecular and cellular communication to clinical care, published an in-depth analysis on Melatonin. One key takeaway from this 2019 review is the association between Melatonin and the beneficial effects it has on sleep. Referred to as “circadian glue,” this particular hormone is good for human health, especially when we consider its ability to optimize sleep timing. Furthermore, it manages unhealthy circadian time cues caused by natural bright light, and exposure to artificial light in nonideal circumstances. In other words, the “sleep hormone” signals when it is time for bed, but it won’t knock us out. Instead, it tells us that it is nighttime, which helps us relax and fall asleep.
5. Manage Your Time
365 days in a year may seem like a long time, but we all know it goes by in the blink of an eye! Many of us are still busy on a daily basis, even in the current “social-distancing” era. In fact, a recent study revealed that 94% of 800 employers said productivity was the same as or even higher than when employees were working in the office. In other words, those Americans who are working still put in a full day (and more!) and as a result, we need to manage our time properly even without the commute to worry about.
Forbes put together a verbose list of 20 powerful time management tips. We’ll go ahead and highlight 3 of the standout pieces of advice from this helpful guide:
- Use A To-Do List
- Plan Ahead
- Eliminate “Half-Work”
Although the first two are self-explanatory, the third tip deserves greater attention. A prime example of “half-work” is checking your phone while you write out an important email for work. Simply put, it is easy to get distracted by our surroundings, especially while working from home and we’ve all experienced a drift in focus from the task at hand on occasion. James Clear, an accomplished author who focuses his efforts on habits and decision-making, suggests designating “significant time to focus on one project and eliminate everything else.” Furthermore, he believes in a complete elimination of distractions as the only way to truly lock into work-related responsibilities.
Could This Be Your Best Year Ever?
All of us go into a new year with high hopes. We resolve to take better care of our health, accomplish something big in our career, and be a better person in general. Whether your goals are hyper-specific — like walking one mile 4 days a week — or more subjective — like being more attentive to your spouse, the year ahead can be filled with some great moments and milestones.
Yes, the world is facing challenges right now and the current crisis is impacting our lives in ways nobody imagined. But perhaps that makes our personal resolutions that much more important. We hope you use the tips above as a launching point to a more fulfilling, healthier, and triumphant year. And who knows — 2021 could be better than any of us dreamed of!