It’s been over a year since the coronavirus pandemic first made waves across the world. At the start of 2020, you’d be forgiven for thinking it was only a temporary event, and we’d soon return to our normal lives as though nothing had happened. But a year on, we are still in the thick of it. Although the future is looking brighter, with vaccinations rolled out and cases falling, we are still subject to restrictions and many people are struggling.

So many of us are uncertain about the future, and for good reason, but there are things you can do to take back a little control of your health and wellbeing. We’re here today to offer some easy, manageable additions you can make to your everyday routine, helping you to prepare to put your best foot forward once restrictions are lifted and we’re launched back into the world. With that in mind, here are 6 simple daily routine hacks for a healthier, happier 2021.

PHONE A LOVED ONE EVERY DAY

Humans are social creatures, dependent on the validation, support and even occasional criticism of their peers for survival. 

Spending time with loved ones is one of the best things you can do for your mental health, and the fact that you can’t meet up with people face to face shouldn’t stand in your way. That said, staying connected throughout lockdown can be tough; sometimes, we feel like there’s not much to report, that another day of screens of various sizes and plenty of fridge-peering doesn’t merit reliving on the phone or via Zoom. 

But maintaining a sense of connection and companionship is so important during these tough times, so make it your mission to phone a loved one each and every day, if only to check in on them and ask if they’re okay. And if you’ve exhausted your list of contacts rather quickly, feel free to message IDEAL for a chat instead! Our email is somewhere right at the bottom of the page.

AN EXTRA ITEM OF FRUIT OR VEG WITH EACH MEAL

Your ‘five-a-day’? So passé. These days, it’s all about getting your ten a day, and then some. 

Indeed, scientists and nutritionists alike have long been saying that ‘5-a-day’ was never really ‘enough’, and was only set at that number to feel realistic and achievable. In fact, we should be consuming at least ten a day for a longer life; doing so could cut 7.8 million premature deaths each year, according to the Imperial College of London. What’s more, we should be focusing on quality not quantity, and on a rich variety of colours within that magic ten, as ‘eating the rainbow’ means we’re getting the most diverse range of nutrients possible.

Of course, five-a-day is still healthy, but you shouldn’t let these numbers, ratios and calculations discourage you; getting to ten can still be manageable and affordable.

Racking up the ingredients with relatively cheaper dried and frozen products is a prudent way to go about it. In fact, it’s sometimes a more nutritionally smart move to make; freezing at the point of picking locks in all the goodness of an ingredient, and frozen items often have more vitamins than their fresh counterparts.

A simple trick to hit that ten is to always, devotedly add an extra piece of fruit or vegetable to each mealtime. So, throw in some diced banana to your morning bran, some sliced radishes to your lunchtime sarnie and a handful of frozen spinach to your curry tonight. A snack of dried goji berries, desiccated coconut and a few hazelnuts in the afternoon, and it’s job done!

A MORNING GLASS OF WATER

For some, it can be hard to get into the habit of drinking enough water each day to keep your body and brain fighting at full fitness. But according to experts, we should be drinking 6 to 8 glasses a day, minimum, to benefit from water’s potential ability to boost brain function, mood, physical performance and to prevent dehydration. 

So, for a happier, healthier 2021, get into the habit of having a big glass of water soon after you wake up. Doing so early doors can increase alertness and jumpstart your metabolism; no wonder top executives and wellness experts alike swear by this simple, habitual act. 

SHIFT ACTIVITIES BACK INTO ANALOG

As anyone who has looked at their smartphone’s ‘Screen Time’ report will attest, the daily hours we rack up staring into our screens is shocking. Aside from all those precious, real life moments lost to Twitter, Instagram et al, there are some genuine health risks associated with excessive smartphone use, too. Yep, all that swiping, scrolling and clicking could lead to posture issues, a shortened attention span, weight gain, reduced empathy and so much more.

To reduce excessive smartphone use in a manageable way, try to shift some tasks and processes away from your phone and back into the analog world. Reading a book, listening to music on a record player, watching your favourite show on TV (not all that analog, we know), reading the physical newspaper, making phone calls, even making shopping lists with a pen…these things needn’t all be done by staring into a blue light and inevitably getting distracted by memes for hours in the process.

DAILY PROBIOTICS

The tiny bacteria that live in your digestive tract and gut play a crucial role in immunity, skin conditions and even, scientists increasingly believe, your mental health. No wonder it’s often referred to as the ‘second mind’ in nutrition and wellbeing circles. 

One of the best ways to look after your gut and give it what it needs is through a daily dose of probiotics, which provide a potent dose of living, breathing, healthy bacteria straight into your digestive system. In this manner, they repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria to cause a marked uptick in gut health. Check out our tips on improving your gut health for more on this fascinating subject.

Whilst we’re on the subject of supplements, some have found that medical cannabinoid-based product can provide support for digestive health, owing to CBD’s potential for both anxiety and stress relief, and that symbiotic relationship between the gut and the mind. In fact, a 2015 study found that the product had some potential as a treatment for anxiety disorders, so it’s worth considering its addition into your routine in 2021.

Do be aware that studies into CBD’s efficacy are ongoing and concrete conclusions yet to be drawn. Before adding either probiotic supplements or CBD to your dietary routine, do consult with your GP or nutritionist.

30 MINS OF EXERCISE

We’re sure we don’t need to extol the virtues of daily exercise. It’s been reported time and time again that just 30 minutes of moderate exercise a day (or, 150 minutes a week, in total) is just about the best thing you can do for your health and wellbeing. 

But how to get this done while we’re all still stuck at home, we hear you cry? We’re glad you asked; here’s some top tips from the experts on how to get the most from your home workout. You can thank us later.