How to set 2021 goals that promote physical and mental well-being

2020 was a difficult year for many families. Months of navigating social distancing, changes and disappointments have left many people feeling mentally and physically drained.

But there is good news: The end of 2020 brought great progress with the COVID-19 vaccine. And a new year offers a natural chance to pause, reflect and set goals to help your family feel healthier and happier.

"There's something special about a fresh start with a fresh calendar," says Brenda Olvera, Health Educator with Get Up & Go by Children's Health supported by Kohl's Cares. "It makes sense to take advantage of that extra motivation to take action and make positive changes to your life."

How do I set New Year's resolutions my family can keep?

Remember to keep your resolutions realistic. Set goals you're likely to stick with. And, if you make a misstep or two, don't quit. You can always restart.

Also, instead of broad goals – like exercising more or eating better – think in specifics. Resolutions are easier to follow if you identify smaller, more exact goals, such as walking for 30 minutes every day as a family or incorporating at least two healthy foods into every meal.

"Begin with a family meeting so everyone is on the same page," Olvera suggests. Involve everyone in the family in brainstorming ways to keep resolutions fun and on track. And lastly, when you accomplish a goal, make sure to celebrate. This can help give you a sense of achievement and the motivation to continue.

Healthy resolutions during COVID-19

This past year has shown how important it is to prioritize physical and mental well-being. Think of ways to establish healthy routines in 2021 – both for your mind and your body. Here are a few ideas for inspiration.

1. Find ways to stay connected with friends and family

At the beginning of the pandemic, your family might have thought of creative ways to stay in touch with loved ones from a safe distance. With the new year, consider a renewed commitment to connecting with others. "Socialization is an incredibly important part of children and teens' development," says Bahcall. "Whether it is through video chat dates, movie streaming parties or a simple phone call, encourage your child to connect regularly with family and friends."

2. Sit less

For many families, more time spent at home has meant less time spent moving. Too much sitting has been linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Make a point of encouraging regular physical activity as a family. See ideas to get moving this winter, or incorporate easy, indoor exercises for kids. Consider giving each family member a step counter and encourage everyone to get in at least 10,000 steps a day.

3. Stay engaged as a family

While your family may have spent more time under the same roof this past year, that doesn't always mean quality time together. Encourage family members to take a break from screen time to pursue activities as a family. Have a board game night. Read a book together. Hold a family dance party or make a family craft. Consider making a family calendar to schedule special time together throughout the week or month to help you connect. Or simply make an effort to check in consistently with each other – such as sharing a "high and low" each day at dinnertime.

4. Pursue a new hobby

Challenge everyone to use their increased time at home productively. Kids and parents alike could set goals to learn a new skill like learning to play an instrument, beginning scrapbooking, learning to knit or completing a 1,000-piece puzzle. A new hobby is also a way to fight boredom and COVID-19 fatigue.

5. Incorporate healthy meal planning

A healthy diet is important for everyone – especially for growing children. Use resources like MyPlate to build well-balanced family meals that include protein, grain and healthy fruits and vegetables. "Organizing your food pantry and refrigerator together is a great first step in a goal of healthier eating as a family," Olvera adds. See more tips for healthy eating at home.

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