The year 2020 was not what any of us expected, and although we just hit the reset button, nobody really knows what 2021 will be like. The vaccination campaign, which just started, definitively gives us hope and shows us some light at the end of the tunnel. But it is hard to predict the time frame, and what other challenges we might face in the journey. Under those circumstances, 2021 calls for a different approach to resolutions and goals.
One of the things 2020 taught us is that your health is not to be taken for granted, you constantly need to work on it. The healthier and more fit you are, the better you will fare. Your health is your most precious asset, especially during a pandemic.
Health first starts with prevention: try to follow the safety guidelines: wash your hands, wear your mask, and practice social distancing. I know it is hard, but it may keep you healthy and prevent contamination to others. If you can avoid any disease, you will always be better off.
Health means being strong physically, mentally, and emotionally. This is not something that is automatically given to you. Every athlete, no matter their level, constantly needs to be working on all three aspects. Although you might have to adapt due to the pandemic, make sure to include all three in your goals this year. You might indeed have to focus on more mental and emotional toughness this year.
Health means good nutrition and better care of your current ailments if any. It is not the time to delay or avoid medical care. Take your medication, follow your doctor’s advices and pledge to eat healthier.
Since this year has been different from any other in our lifetime, we need to use a different approach to New Year’s resolutions. We are still in the midst of this pandemic and the uncertainty of the future makes it difficult to make any plans. An increased focus on health and fitness should be amplified this year but with an attitude of flexibility. We need to be open to modify our plans quickly and easily.
First, we need to focus on short term goals based on what can be done NOW. For example, some of the pools in Oregon are still closed. For the swimmers concerned, it might not be realistic to set a goal of swimming 3 times a week at 9 AM. A better goal might be to commit to do some sort of outdoor physical activities 3 times a week, and if possible, drive to an open pool once a week. In addition, we need to be flexible with the time. Often reservations are required, or the Pacific Northwest weather is not cooperating. When there is an opportunity, jump on it as often as you can. Then reassess your goals each quarter based on your likes and dislikes, your progress and what is possible or not. As things open up and the future becomes more clear, you can establish new resolutions.
Secondly, this year do not forget the mental and emotional aspects of your health. 2020 definitively put a toll on our emotional well-being. Millions of people have lost their jobs or face imminent layoffs, families are losing loved ones to COVID every day, kids are falling behind in school, the country is facing a mental and emotional health crisis. It is important to refocus our resolutions on how to be a better neighbor, citizen, and contributor to society. Too many people are hurting this year. Looking for ways to help those in need, as well as setting goals for taking care of your own, will help you fill your emotional needs, as well as those of your neighbors and loved ones.
Here are a few pointers to set yourself for success
- Add more daily activities into your life: take the stairs, walk more, stand versus sit. If you start moving more in your life, then you will not have to spend hours working out. Moving creates energy. You feel better. It strengthens your immune system and improves your mental health.
- Try to get at least seven to eight hours sleep per night. Sleep is when your body recovers and repairs. If you do not sleep enough, you will not function optimally.
- Identify your stressors. Outline methods that help you to reduce your stress and practice them regularly.
- Plan for setbacks: your 2021 goals may suffer obstacles as they have in 2020. Set your mind to expect obstacles, and commit in advance to figuring how to go over, around, under or through. If there is a will, there is always a way.
Learn from your 2020 experiences to create a better and stronger 2021.