feet of a runner standing over 2021 on the pavement

Seven habits for a healthy 2021

As we leave behind a year marked by a pandemic, 2021 brings new opportunities to be more proactive in maintaining our health.

Here are seven changes you can make to be a healthier you in the New Year.

1. Cut back on alcohol

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), excessive alcohol use can be linked to chronic diseases and other serious problems including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease and digestive problems.

But even casual drinkers can see some health benefits to cutting back on booze.

If you’re not ready to commit to an alcohol-free lifestyle, try a brief hiatus like Dry January.

2. Get better sleep

A good night’s sleep gives us many important health benefits. It lowers our stress level, gives us energy and even boosts our immune system.

But many of us struggle to shut down at the end of the day. Here are four tips for getting better sleep.

3. Practice gratitude

open notebook with "Goals" and a nubered list sits below "2021" on a desk with succulentsMental health is just as important as physical health.

Studies show that feelings like gratitude and thankfulness are associated with happiness, and writing about those feelings can boost your mood.

Get started with a gratitude journal.

4. Improve your home office ergonomics

In 2020, many of us spent more time working from home.

But a workspace that doesn’t accommodate proper ergonomics can be a pain in the back. Poor posture can lead to issues with muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage or spinal discs.

Get tips for setting up a smarter home office space.

5. Quit smoking – this time for good

Let 2021 be the year you finally give up cigarettes.

The fact is that many smokers will try to quit several times before they are successful, but there are certain techniques that evidence shows will increase your odds of success.

Read these six proven tips to quit smoking for good.

6. Take a soda break

Too much sugar can lead to health problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

And soda is one of the leading culprits for adding sugar to a person’s diet. One 20-ounce bottle of regular soda contains about 65 grams of sugar. That’s the same amount as you would consume eating six glazed donuts.

Read these tips for No Soda November – which can be applied to any month of the year.

7. Stay up to date on vaccinations

Immunizations are an important part of early childhood, but adults benefit from vaccines, too.

Older adults might benefit from vaccinations against pneumonia and shingles – and most adults and children over 6 months old should get an annual flu shot.

In 2021, most Americans are also likely to have the opportunity to receive a vaccine against COVID-19. Read up on the available vaccines so you’re prepared when your family has the chance to receive one.

About Author: Laura Nightengale

Laura Nightengale was a writing coordinator for OSF HealthCare. 

She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and worked as a reporter at a daily newspaper for five years before joining OSF HealthCare. 

When she’s not working, Laura loves to travel, read, and spend time with her family, including her sweet and ornery dog.

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Categories: COVID-19, Preventive Health