Small, Healthy Habits We Adopted in 2020 That We’ll Hold Onto in the Coming Year

The changes we experienced encouraged us to take on little rituals to protect our mental and physical well-being — and we’re not letting them go!

Westend61/ Getty Images
Westend61/ Getty Images

There’s no denying that the challenges of 2020 tested our resilience and impacted our routines. But amidst all the uncertainty and stress, we were also presented with opportunities to look inward and make meaningful changes to the way we work and live. The small habits and rituals we adopted helped protect our mental and physical well-being so much that we’ll continue holding to them in the year ahead.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us one small, healthy habit they adopted in 2020 — and how they’ll continue to implement it into their routines even when the pandemic is over. Which of these habits will you try?

Daily journaling 

“Our team is very small which forces me to have many roles and responsibilities. This was causing me to get stuck and feel overwhelmed. I started journaling to relieve that pressure by listing my monthly to-do list and then breaking down my day on paper. This ritual allows me to have a full plan without having to go back and decide what I need to do next. I’ll continue using this system in 2021, as it boosts my productivity and helps me reach my goals.”

—Brandon Landgraf, digital marketing manager, Cleveland, OH

A glass of lemon water in the morning 

“A small habit that took on this year and I plan to continue indefinitely is my daily glass of lemon water. It’s become a quick way to start my day while the coffee is brewing and the bread is toasting. A squeeze of lemon smells wonderfully invigorating, and it helps me feel awake and ready to tackle the day.”

—Marta Rzeszowska Chavent, change and management consultant, France

Step tracking

“In the last few weeks, I have been wearing a fitness tracker to capture and track my steps. This year, it quickly became obvious that I needed to move more. Consciously adding a daily walk to my routine has helped me shift to a more healthy mindset and increase my focus during the work day.”

—Jessica Rockamann, senior content strategy analyst, MO

Phone-free family time

“The best habit I’ve formed in 2020 is a commitment to family time without my phone. It’s not always easy, but with my son home during the weekdays, and my wife and I sharing daily co-parenting duties while still attempting to keep up with our weekly work schedules, I’ve found that the time I take to be with my son is best utilized if my phone is not a third wheel. Before taking on this habit, I often found myself obsessing in my head about work while spending time with my son, and then daydreaming about hanging out with him during the time I should have been digging into work. The separation of family and tech has truly been a gift that I hope to continue long after this year.”

 —Kevin Seldon, podcast host, Los Angeles, CA

At-home weight training

“I’ve found that it’s more important than ever to do weight training to keep my bones strong and avoid osteoporosis. I ordered some kettlebells right before lockdown, but they’d been sitting in the corner collecting dust. Once lockdown hit and I was more sedentary, I put my heaviest kettlebell at the top of the stairs where I work ,and every time I went downstairs, I would take the kettlebell with me. Then. I’d carry it back upstairs later. I started doing bicep curls and other arm exercises while walking around the house. Now, I manage to get my entire arm workout incorporated into my day, just by going up and down the stairs!”

—Karen Finn, health blogger, London, UK

Carving out “connection time”

“Social connection is such an important factor for our well-being, and although I knew this before, I never allocated dedicated time for it until the pandemic hit. It has taught me that connection can occur in so many different ways, whether making a phone call while doing chores, setting up a Zoom call while meal prepping, or scheduling a virtual dinner with friends.I plan on continuing this habit as part of my self-care strategy by ensuring that ‘connection time’ is something that goes into my planner and calendar. I simply need to look at my week ahead and realize there is always time to connect with others.” 

—Ellen Wong, founder of The Joy Avenue, Toronto, Canada

Daily self-care (and a dose of silence)

“As a single mom of two teenagers, I find carving out a little space for myself each day has been incredibly supportive. Now that there is no hustle to get kids out the door, I use the early morning time to light a few candles, sip on my coffee and sit in silence for a few minutes. I find that if I make the space every day to connect with myself, my overall stress levels dramatically decrease. This has become such an important part of my day, and I notice instantly if I am not able to create the time.”

—Julie Ratinoff, relationship therapist and coach, Westminster, CO

Family bike riding

“This year, I learned how to ride a bike in my adulthood! I never learned as a kid, and it was quite a scene when my six-year-old got off his training wheels and I was learning side by side with him. I now go on an almost daily bike ride with my husband and son, and it’s given me a new sense of freedom. There’s nothing like the wind in your hair and the sun on your face while playing!”

—Lisa Pezik, business strategist, Ontario, Canada

Setting a hard stop to our workday

“This year has been a blessing to learn more about myself. By working from home, I was confident the extra commute time would go into more meetings. So, I set boundaries with my working hours and marked the rest of the time OOO. Each day at 4:00 pm, I change from my work clothes into my home clothes so I can wind down for the day. Setting a hard stop to my workday was important to not let work take priority over my personal life. It also urged me to take care of my physical health more than in the past with balanced nutrition.”

—Div Manickam, Raleigh, NC

Taking little breaks to reset

“Working from home during the pandemic has generated the habit of taking small breaks throughout the day to recharge. This allows me to work with a clearer mind and come back to work putting my best foot forward. I’ll continue to do this after the pandemic by getting up from my desk more, taking walks in nature, and doing short meditations even after we are back in office.”

—Sarah Rudman, operations manager, Boston, MA 

What’s one healthy habit you took on this year? Share with us in the comments!

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