Contributed by Megan Martin
The last year of our lives has been particularly stressful. Lockdowns and shutdowns have left many hurting, worried, and stressed. Adults find themselves stretched impossibly thin as they find a way to juggle a work/home balance that is unpredictable. With schools closing at seemingly random times, forcing kids to be at home for virtual learning (again), parent’s lives are being uprooted at a moment’s notice. Just when it seems that things are on a steady course and a routine is established, out comes the rug! Not to mention the possibility of layoffs, furloughs, or business closings. So, how are you coping? Are you a stress-eater and binge when nobody’s watching? Do you pour yourself an extra glass of wine, or two, with dinner? Maybe your outlet is stress-cleaning. Or exercising. Do you prefer to stay in bed all day and pretend it’s all okay? Maybe you like to shop. Perhaps you’re restless. Whatever it may be, let this new year be a beacon of hope to you. Things may have gotten out of control in 2020, but it’s time to take back your life! Here’s how—invest in yourself.
Invest in Your Hobbies
Think back to a time before all of life’s responsibilities overcame you. A time before COVID. Before kids. Before your first apartment. Before cell phones were even a thing. I’ll bet you’re feeling more relaxed already. It was simpler then. What did you like to do? What were you good at doing? I’m not asking you to daydream and flee your real-time responsibilities. I’m suggesting you rediscover pieces of you that have long been forgotten. Reinvest in your hobbies. Make time to develop your talents or teach them to others. Having an outlet that we enjoy is essential to our overall wellbeing and happiness. Now, more than ever, you have countless resources at your fingertips. You can find free how-to videos or online instruction. You can learn a new skill with a simple internet search. Or you can opt to pay for virtual coaching for more in-depth training. You can even enjoy group classes from the comfort and safety of your living room. There are no excuses left. Try something new! Take a moment and think about your goals or bucket list. Start making it happen today.
Invest in Your Health
It’s time to take control of your physical health. 2020 has not been kind to our waistlines. Gym and health facility closures left many without the motivation to stay active. Food availability forced some to eat whatever they could find, or moreover, they could afford. Healthy food isn’t exactly the most budget-friendly. However, even in the face of adversity there are small choices you can make to help keep you moving in the right direction. First, make a conscious effort to get up and move throughout your day. This can look like taking your dog for a walk, or a slightly longer walk if it’s already part of your routine. It could look like taking the stairs rather than the elevator. Perhaps it could be a dance party with your tween to reconnect and shake off a bad day. It doesn’t need to be complicated.
Secondly, take every opportunity to incorporate good food choices to your meals. No, you don’t need to become vegan or try keto or jump into a fad diet. Simply incorporate whole foods wherever you can. Make a few swaps while grocery shopping and choose generic to help keep costs low. Skip the chips and choose an apple or banana. Instead of serving Dr. Pepper, offer flavored water. Rather than snacking on leftover Christmas Tree Cakes, grab a handful of crunchy granola. Frozen fruits and veggies are another way to keep within a budget while getting healthy foods. They are frozen at peak ripeness, so you’ll always get flavorful results. The options are endless. Small investments will empower you.
Lastly, pay attention to your body. If something seems off, speak up about it. Lumps, pains, swelling, changes in bowel habits—these are all things that you need to notice. Keep an open line of communication with your physician, and keep your appointments. Act on an issue before it becomes a serious problem. Learn the names and dosages of your medications. If you take medications for blood pressure then check your blood pressure regularly. If you’re diabetic, check your blood sugars as recommended by your doctor and keep a record. Also take some time to learn about the signs of life-threatening issues such as stroke or heart attack and how to respond to them. For those of you who are tech savvy, you can set up an online portal with your hospital system. This enables you to message your physician, see tests results online, and set up appointments. Stop procrastinating. There are changes you can make today! Invest in your health.