Have you started 2020 with resolutions to get healthier, fitter or happier? If so, it’s important to make sure your goals are both achievable and realistic. The key to success with lifestyle changes can be to make smaller, everyday adjustments, rather than attempt an extreme or dramatic life overhaul. Make your new daily routine sustainable and easy to stick to, and you’re more likely to keep it up.
With all this in mind, here are 10 small life changes you should consider making in 2020:
1. Eat more plants and less meat
There are dozens of good reasons to eat more plant-based food and less meat, as well as dairy. It’s good for your health, helping you to avoid processed foods and get far more vitamins and minerals into your diet. You’ll also save money by buying vegetables rather than meat, as well as helping the environment. Meat production has a number of negative environmental effects, including pollution, land and water consumption. You may also be able to reduce the amount of plastic packaging you throw away, by choosing loose veg over plastic trays that supermarkets tend to package meat in.
You don’t need to become a vegetarian or a vegan to experience all of these benefits. You can simply make smaller adjustments, such as pledging to have a plant-based dinner at least 3-4 nights a week, or swapping in some ingredients for meat-free alternatives.
2. Plan your meals in advance
If you’re aiming to eat healthily, reduce meat consumption and perhaps lose weight, planning is crucial. Take some time at the weekend to find recipes and plan out your meals in advance, so you can buy exactly what you need when you go shopping. Fail to plan and you risk making unhealthy impulse decisions or purchases later in the week. Recipe planning doesn’t have to be a chore. Why not turn it into a fun family weekend activity?
3. Get moving
You don’t need a gym membership to be more active, burn calories and lose weight. Moving more during the day can make a big difference to your overall health, and there are lots of small changes you can make. For example:
● Take the stairs rather than the lift.
● Walk rather than drive or take public transport - make sure it’s a walkable distance, then set off earlier and get in some extra exercise.
● Work at home? Build in short dance breaks - it gets you moving, gives you a break from your computer screen and lifts your spirits at the same time!
4. Set a bedtime during the week
It’s so important to get enough good quality sleep. If you found yourself feeling tired and lethargic in 2019, it’s time to make some small changes to your bedtime routine. Start by setting a realistic bedtime and sticking to it. It’ll help you to get into a better routine, where your body is ready for sleep so you don’t spend hours lying awake.
5. Put down your phone at least half an hour before you go to sleep
As part of your healthy new bedtime routine for 2020, you also need to ditch your phone just before sleep. Make sure you stop looking at it at least 30-60 minutes before bed, as the blue light can interfere with your sleep. Put the electronics aside, and you should find that you’re enjoying better quality shut-eye.
6. Leave work at a set time each day, and restrict access to your work emails at home
Make 2020 the year you find a positive work/life balance. You can do this by making a few minor adjustments, such as leaving work at a set time every day - rather than spending extra hours in the office finishing up bits and pieces that can wait until tomorrow.
You should also avoid checking your work email at home. If you don’t trust yourself, restrict access to your work email so that it’s not possible to take a sneaky peek.
7. Have more booze-free days
You don’t have to go completely booze-free to reduce your alcohol consumption. Simply set yourself a target to have alcohol-free days, such as during the week. And when you drink - such as at the weekends - alternate your alcoholic drinks with a hydrating glass of water or a soft drink. This should help you to cut down, and give your body a chance to recover after drinking.
Alcohol-free days can help you to lose weight, improve your heart health, give you more energy, aid your sleep and save you money. And you can avoid those horrible hangovers.
8. Set aside some ‘do nothing’ time each day
We could all do with lowering our stress levels in 2020. This can be caused by being too busy, or feeling like we always need to be doing something. Carve some time out of your day just to lie on the sofa and read a magazine, or simply to sip a coffee in the garden. It could just be 10 minutes, but it should make a big difference to your mood and your sense of wellbeing. Remember - self-care is crucial, so make sure you build enough ‘me time’ into your day.
9. Get up a tiny bit earlier
Just think of what you could get done if you got up half an hour earlier each day. You could get a jumpstart on your day, or simply leave yourself enough time for a coffee or to catch up on the news before work.
10. Keep a glass of water within easy reach at all times
Drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated is critical for keeping us healthy. Water balances our body fluids, energises your muscles, keeps your skin looking good and can even help you to maintain a healthy weight. We know all of this, but many people still find it difficult to drink enough.
Make it easier to stay hydrated by keeping a bottle or glass of water on your desk or next to you on the sofa at all times. You’ll soon be reaching for it without even thinking.