We probably started the year full of new year resolutions, especially related to improving our health, and now the month of January is coming to an end, and are we keeping those healthy promises?
Our health is the most precious thing we have to go through life and enjoy the beauty of Planet Earth!
This is why we have decided to dedicate a full article on all the changes we can do to improve our mental and physical health this 2020, and motivate you to keep to your resolutions!
Make sure you read the first part of our article related to environmentally friendly initiatives, as there are ideas for making ourselves healthier!
Healthy resolutions related to food: You are what you eat
The food we eat affects both our health and the environment, so eating better is definitely a resolution we want to focus on!
The industry as we know it is not sustainable. The supermarket model is not viable. It killed a lot of traditional local shops in the 80s and 90s because we consumers wanted cheaper food. But do we actually care about our bodies?
The quality of the food is so bad, so many of their nutrients have been lost. We have become completely immoral in the way we consume animal products raised in captivity and horrible conditions, with farmers injecting a tonne of antibiotics and feeding them crap food.
Precooked food is terrible too, as it’s usually full of grease, salt, and additives. We use a tonne of plastic to package all of this. Very convenient for our crazy lifestyle, but very unhealthy and cruel.
So it’s time to change those bad habits.
Eat local, seasonal food and organic as much as you can
If you eat locally sourced produce, you will reduce the carbon associated with transport.
Seasonal food has all the nutrients your body needs at that time of the year. Mother nature is so smart she creates the right food just when we need it. So only buy food that is available for time of the year.
Organic food is also important, but not only. Try to choose food that comes directly from the producer. Avoid intermediaries as much as you can. And if you eat meat, make sure it comes from a permaculture farm, from animals that were fed in nature. Cattle is a wonderful thing when it comes to improving the quality of our soils because it absorbs carbon and methane! The problem is when we eat meat coming from modern methods of production.
This is a very interesting video on this subject by Ray Archuleta, PhD at a Nobel Conference, in which he explains the wider picture about being vegan. Because even if we don’t eat meat, if your food comes from modern agriculture, it’s killing the soil, and therefore all the creatures that live in it, as well as all the others that depend on it, like birds. When agriculture is carried out properly, it does wonders for the planet!
Eat less meat and more vegetables.
Don’t forget, if you eat one serving of meat, you need 3 of vegetables. That’s what lots of nutritionists advise. The problem is that we have been eating too much, and too much of anything is bad for you. Balance is best, for your body and for the environment.
Think about your food as well when you are travelling. It’s even more crucial in a touristic area to encourage local food production!
Cook whole food, cook myself more often
Processed food is so bad, many people have no idea.
You can’t rely on the package. It’s like a contract. You need to read the small print because the rest is just marketing!
I have started to know about this thanks to my nutritionist.
She guided me when I was sick, and helped me understand a lot about the small print. All those additives that are bad for you and are only there so that foods look “pretty”.
The industry is using them as a sales tool. And that’s because of OUR behaviour.
They studied what was selling the most and understood the psychology behind it.
That’s why all those additives exist in the first place.
Now it’s time to go backwards collectively. And understand that colours, size, and beauty is not necessarily a synonym of healthy food.
This video will help you understand what I mean:
Some people use apps like Yuka to guide them. I’d say it’s a good beginning, but that’s not enough. I’ve seen some products sometimes marked as worse than another where I would disagree. Again, get informed a little bit. Treat your body right, it’s your most important tool to go through life, never forget that!
And if you are unsure, it’s very easy: the less processed, the better. Buy raw food and cook it yourself. You can’t go wrong with extra virgin olive oil and bio vegetables for instance!
Cook yourself with the help of websites, books, or simply experiment with what you have! It’s amazing what you can do with a few spices and raw food! And you know what? It’s also good for the mind to do something with your own hands!
Mind your health at work
If at work you spend the whole day sitting down, take regular breaks!
Sitting is bad for you in so many ways! And standing without moving is as well, by the way!
Aim to stand up at least every hour to move your legs and body!
Go get some water (we need at least 8 glasses a day!), walk around the block or even just go to the bathroom if you are in a rush, but get up, stretch and look into the distance.
It’s good for your back, your legs, shoulders, neck and eyes! It’s also good for your mind.
Taking regular breaks will also make you more productive, so don’t feel guilty about it!
Some countries have even introduced a 4 day week, and are proving that there are benefits not only to workers but also to employers as their workers are more motivated and focused.
Take time for yourself
This is also healthy, of course. We are all so busy doing things we forget ourselves!
What about going to a dance class, painting, singing or whatever makes you feel good?
This is something I’ll explain further below in the context of mental health, so keep reading!
And it’s obvious that moving and doing sport is necessary for your body if you want to live healthier for longer!
Healthy resolutions for you and the planet: Consume less
Not only is it good for your health, but it’s also better for your wallet and the environment!
Our consumption is the main problem. We desperately need to change!
That’s also something most politicians don’t address: economical growth.
This is killing us. We are now undergoing the 6th species extinction on Earth. We really have to wake up and force our governments to act and change paradigms.
They need to understand that unlimited growth is unsustainable. You can check a paper I wrote on LinkedIn about this issue (if you understand a bit of French).
And by the way, our economy is not only killing our planet, it dehumanizes us and makes us sick. Not only from the pollution of our soils and food, but also from the way we behave socially.
Learn more about minimalism: declutter!
That’s actually part of consuming less.
But it’s also getting rid of stuff you don’t need anymore.
And it’s also being more organized and having regular clear-outs instead of letting things pile up to the point that you getting rid of things becomes a herculean task.
I decided to either throw away, give away, sell or recycle stuff I didn’t need.
I have started with my wardrobe and I think I did quite a good job.
No need to buy anything new unless I can’t repair it and I give something away for example.
Eventually, I’d love to be able to live in a tiny house and carve out more freedom for myself!
Healthy resolutions for the mind: Be curious
Inform myself, challenge ideas, avoid bias.
What do I mean?
Well, when I watch a video on Youtube, for example, I like to look at contrary ideas to be able to make an informed opinion. Or even experiment myself and see.
There was a great video about veganism for example that I found very interesting, and which everyone is talking about lately: The Game Changer.
Then I watched various other videos debunking it, because while watching it I felt many things didn’t make sense.
And I recently realised that permaculture is probably the most eco-friendly thing to do if we want to avoid depleted soils. It involves cattle – something that vegans are strongly against. However, animals play an important role protecting life in soils and dependant species like birds, etc. They also keep clear areas that would otherwise easily burn, thus preventing bushfires.
Being vegan didn’t work for me although I did try. I already have a lot of problems with my digestion, and eating too many vegetables doesn’t work. I can’t eat any legumes either, and my doctor also recommended I avoid soy products.
You have to do what’s right for you. If being vegan feels right, then great; but if not, don’t feel guilty. I have a “friend” who stopped following me after I posted a picture of a dish I prepared for my mum for her birthday which was ecological, but it involved animals (fish).
I find it so narrow-minded to judge people. Even when you eat 100 pct plant-based, you are killing insects and animals due to the way we grow our food.
I think we should definitely eat less meat because it’s completely unsustainable. I also stopped drinking milk, and practically cut out dairy, apart from kefir from time to time for my guts.
But I try to always buy meat that has been humanely raised. For example, I am careful not to buy eggs from jailed chickens.
And I don’t eat much. I diversify my food as much as I can. But when one cannot eat lentils, beans, much soy etc, it’s a little limited. I eat avocado but it’s not good either for the environment and your health in many cases. You really need to get interested in the food you buy and look at the labels. It’s not enough to be vegan.
See this one minute video to understand the problem and how you can buy better food
Get involved to encourage leaders to take healthy resolutions
Learn more about politics, economy and stop complaining and relying on others to build a better society. I think it’s a little hypocritical of me to criticise politicians if I don’t try to understand what could be the solutions and who is the closest to my ideas.
It’s also my responsibility to stop voting for anyone who believes in unlimited growth in a limited world, who only cares about money and who is not trying to overhaul the model of our economy, that is doomed to fail.
Goals for mental health
As I said earlier, taking regular breaks at work can be a great way to avoid burn out.
There are other ways explained in this post of Forbes and I will also mention for a good mental health.
Mental health is something we don’t talk enough about but it is so crucial in our life.
Actually mental health can lead to physical health, as Lady Gaga explained in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
First of all, you need to be vulnerable. And accept that you are not perfect.
You are allowed to cry, you are allowed to feel down, in fact, you are allowed to have emotions!
Many people try to play the poker face all day and our world has become such a hypocritical place where everyone must be positive or die!
Of course, positivism is a great thing and it’s always helpful to be hopeful and cultivate it.
However, you need to be realistic too. Too much positivism can prevent you from facing your problems. Saying to the whole world you feel great when you are miserable, is the fake it until you make it approach, and can help in some ways; but you need to acknowledge when you are unwell and feel able to seek help.
No man is an island, and asking for help doesn’t mean you are crazy or weak.
Actually, it’s the opposite. When you decide to search for help, accept your flaws, and take a real look at yourself in the mirror, accepting your vulnerability, that’s when you are getting stronger!
I love inspirational videos and if there is one you really need to see if you want to learn how to accept yourself is one by Brene Brown called “The POWER of vulnerability”. Think about it: Power is the word used to talk about vulnerability.
I think meditation is one of the most popular healthy resolutions we heard of in the past years.
You can do this in many different ways.
There is no need to sit down, crossing legs like a yoga teacher.
You can also meditate through writing, lying down with your eyes closed and connecting to your breathing, you can keep a gratitude journal and make a note of anything that brought you joy that day.
In my case, I worked a lot on breathing and being present.
Mindfulness: one of my favourite healthy resolutions!
That’s the practice of being in the present moment.
I noticed many years ago that I would often project myself into the future or ruminate about the past and very rarely enjoy the present moment. Carpe Diem is such a wonderful motto!
– Be present, notice the little things.
– Observe what is around you.
We see things but we don’t watch them anymore… We don’t even notice.
I live in Barcelona and it’s a beautiful city. Sometimes I surprise myself discovering funny things I pass in front of every morning and never noticed before!
Disconnect from distractions
When it comes to distractions, it’s the same. We fail to be present every time we check our phones or emails for notifications.
Turn them off! At least when you are having a conversation with another human being! Not only will you be more respectful, but you will also enjoy it more.
I also heard of the importance of doing it when having lunch or dinner, and it’s probably one of the most difficult healthy resolutions I am trying to keep!
And don’t listen only to respond when someone talks to you.
Simply listen. Put yourself in this person’s shoes.
“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.”
That’s another way of meditating, and it can be done at any time of the day.
Sometimes, we need to stop whatever we are doing and refocus.
And it’s so easy to do: close your eyes, breathe in and breathe out, noticing the air going through your lungs and your belly.
Obviously, there are many breathing exercises. My favourite is the one where you make yourself aware of each part of your body and relax them while you breathe out. From head to toe. What a wonderful exercise!
Look for the ones you think you will like the most and try them out! You’ll notice significant relief when you are stressed!
Reconnect with nature
It can be as simple as taking a walk in a park, by the beach or in the forest.
Nature is so powerful for the mind.
Our lives have been so disconnected from nature in our modern world…
We can’t even walk in the grass anymore in most cities, it’s forbidden!
We are forced to walk on concrete instead…
Have you heard of Earthing? It’s an interesting idea explaining how walking barefoot in nature is not only good for the mind, but also for the body! Have a look at this video and see if it could be part of your healthy resolutions for 2020!
Take one step at a time
Planning is key here.
We can’t do everything at once and it can be so overwhelming that we end up not doing anything at all.
So be kind and honest to yourself. Learn where your limit is, and say no BEFORE you reach it!
And celebrate every single completed step, no matter how small!
Reward yourself and it will motivate you to keep going.
The reward could be something as simple as taking a break!
Connect with people in real life, not only online!
Life is not on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram!
Make a conscious effort to meet the people you like and enjoy spending time with.
Take time to meet them in person, even if it’s only for a cup of tea!
And if they live far away, what about picking up the phone once in a while instead of only messaging? It makes a huge difference to hear the voices of your loved ones.
If you have an app that does video calls, even better!
Connect in real life with people is definitely one of the best healthy resolutions for mental health!
Take your offline creative hobbies to the next level
Enjoy manual work like gardening, drawing, sewing, that will help you disconnect from the online world.
Taking classes is also a great way to meet people.
In my case, I sing in the Barcelona English Choir. It is a great therapy, not only a hobby. No matter what I am going through: problems at home, at work or with my health, singing is such a great experience for me! I feel like I give a little bit of myself through the energy of singing!
Giving is a wonderful thing. And I realized it also helps me spiritually and mentally.
And singing is in my blood. We have lots of singers in the family! My Madagascan roots I guess! So it’s more than a hobby and a therapy: it’s a passion!
So, live your passions!
Keep your healthy resolutions (past January)
Now, I am not naive. I know I will fail and won’t follow all my resolutions. But this is the direction I want to take and this is exactly like setting goals. If you don’t set any goals for yourself, you will hardly reach them.
And review this article from time to time if it contains resolutions you want to take. As a reminder. And also sit down and think about them from time to time, to see what you have accomplished so far, and how you can reach the next level!
So what are you waiting for? Go for it!
We would like to know which tips proved most useful for you, and ask you to share in the comments section below more ideas for new year’s resolutions that will help us to be more healthy and mindful for our planet!