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After the crazy year that 2020 turned out to be, I think it is especially important to put my health first this year. In 2021, I will focus on both my mental and physical health. At the beginning of the year, I made a list of ten habits that I will carry into 2021 to make for a healthy, happy year, despite any curveballs that may come my way. 

Not touching my phone right when I wake up  

Once my alarm goes off in the morning, I turn it off and that is the most I will touch my phone for about an hour to an hour and a half after I wake up. After that, I go about my morning routine and just appreciate the things around me without the influence and burdens of social media. This habit has made me appreciate being in the moment more and not care so much about what social media holds.  

Taking one day to relax every week 

I have always had a tendency to overwork myself, from registering for too many classes and ending up with too much homework, to exercising too much and overworking my body, and even participating in too many extracurricular activities. I’m not sure why I always bite off more than I can chew, but it always backlashes and I end up exhausted and worn down. This year, I am making sure to be very intentional about taking one day off a week to relax both my body and mind. On my rest days, I will not work out or do any extremely strenuous activity. Instead, I will go for a walk in nature, journal, or do some yoga, taking my time to relax.  

Eating a balanced diet 

I wrestled for nine years, throughout elementary school and high school. During wrestling, I always had to maintain my weight and be watchful about what I ate. After doing this for nine years, my body was used to being in a calorie deficit. I even stopped getting my period completely. After research and doctor visits, I learned that I was not eating nearly enough (about half the calories I was supposed to) and I was severely malnourished. Since then, I have been putting healthy eating first to make sure that I am not only getting enough calories, but that I am eating enough carbs, protein, and healthy fats. I do this by tracking the food I eat on an app called Lifesum. Instead of using this app to watch my calories, which is what it is usually used for, I use it to make sure I am eating enough to nourish my body. 

Journaling regularly

Like a lot of young people, I have a lot of anxiety and stress. Instead of pushing it down and ignoring my anxiety like I used to, I am acknowledging and dealing with it through journaling. I either do this by writing down everything that is overwhelming my mind or I look up journaling topics on Pinterest. Journaling helps me get out of my own head and see simple solutions to the problems that are bothering me. 

Spending quality time with my friends 

Last semester, my schedule was packed with homework. It felt like all I did was stay in my dorm and complete assignments. I missed out on a lot of fun weekends full of beaches and hiking with my friends. This semester, I am going to make a priority to spend quality time with my friends. This does not have to really be going out and planning an entire day. Quality time can be as simple as having a meaningful conversation or having dinner together. 

Practicing self-care and self-love  

Our days are full of work, homework, and responsibilities that we have to take care of every day. While we are busy rushing through our day, we often forget to take a moment everyday to really practice self-love and self-care. In 2021, I am making this a priority. Every day, I will be sure to take a moment for myself to breathe and let my mind relax so that I can feel at peace. So far, I have been doing this in the morning after I exercise. I take about 15-20 minutes to stretch my muscles. While I am doing this, I am breathing deeply and letting go of all of my stress so I can start my day with a peaceful mind and go from there.  

Staying off my phone an hour before bed 

While I am staying off of my phone an hour after I wake up, I am also staying off my phone an hour before I go to bed. This habit has a variety of benefits. The blue light that comes from a screen keeps your brain awake, so putting that blue light away helps me get better, more fulfilling sleep at night. It also gives me more time to read a book, paint, or write in my journal to tie in with practicing self-care.  

Practicing patience

Patience is probably the number one thing that I need to work on. In 2020, I found myself getting irritated or anxious if I was running late, if I was not seeing results to something fast enough, if technology was not working, etc. Getting irritated over these things only added to my anxiety. After journaling and reading about mental health, it clicked into place for me that I can no longer stress about things that are out of my control. After reflecting about it, I came to the realization that I have very little control over the things in my life. I can only control how I react to the things that happen in my life. I have no control over being stuck in traffic or if technology is not working. But I can control how I react. I can either get stressed out and anxious, or I can accept the situation as is and understand that what is meant to happen will happen; I am just going to have to adapt the best that I can. This shift in mindset has really helped me with my anxiety and put me more at peace with my life.  

Planning and preparing for my week

I had this habit in 2020, but it worked so well for me that I plan on carrying it over to 2021. Every Sunday, I write down any homework I have and assignments I have due in my planner. I also write down all my shifts for work and any appointments I may have. Doing this gives me a visual for what I have to do every week and how much time I have to do it. 

Having a growth mindset

If 2020 taught me anything, it was that I cannot control what happens in my life and sometimes everything just gets flipped upside down without warning. While in quarantine, we were all forced to make the most of our situation regardless of what it was. Having a growth mindset was essential for having any sort of success in 2020. Instead of looking at the pandemic as a road block, I had to change my perspective to see it as an opportunity. I looked at it as an opportunity to really focus and work on myself, which I was actually in desperate need of. With this change in my mindset, I am confident that any run-ins or hiccups that happen in the future will not seem like an impossible barrier. I will simply face the issue by changing my approach to the task so that I can still complete what I need to.   

My name is Mackenzie Hamilton and I am a sophomore at UH Manoa. I am majoring in Fashion design and merchandising while focusing primarily on the design track. I aspire to be a fashion designer with the vision of having 100% recycled and environmentally friendly textiles. My hobbies include sewing, writing, reading, painting, and exploring.
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