My Top 5 Habits of 2020...And the Ones I’ll Take into 2021
When 2020 has become a four-letter-word, I’ve forced myself to look back and hang on to the great things that I’ve learned and experienced this year.
My 2020 madness began a month earlier than many when my CrossFit gym where I coached full-time in Tennessee was destroyed by a tornado. I had to trade my fitness gains and social outlet, as did many others soon after, for quickly learning how to manage emotional stress, how to be alone with my thoughts, and how to personally develop from difficulty.
This turned into a journey into minimalism and decluttering, physically and mentally. My minimalism journey does involve some donation runs to Goodwill and attempting to become a floor-sleeper (a story for another time), but it mostly involves forming new habits and breaking some old ones that no longer serve me.
Thankfully, spring was around the corner so most of these habits involved some sunshine. I have not been perfect in keeping with my new habits over the year, but in some small or big way, these activities have turned into healthy mindsets for me personally. In what could’ve been the worst year of my life, I’ve found so much joy and inner peace from the decisions that follow.
Hopefully, you can enjoy and identify with one of these, and let me know how it has worked for you!
1) Morning Yoga - I have my yoga mat out in my living room angled towards the sunshine as part of my decor. (I’ve made my “meditation corner” much prettier over time to distract from the lack of furniture). This makes yoga much easier to stick with and more enticing than slumping on the couch. I never intend to spend 15 or 30 minutes of actual stretching but that’s usually the outcome. I always start with just one stretch, or I commit to two minutes. My go-to stretches have been for my neck and hips, and I’ve discovered how much I need to just move in the mornings. I have made up my flow on the go, focusing on whatever is most tight, and I admit that I look ridiculous at times, much like the blow-up man at a car dealership. After my yoga time, my body always feels significantly better than it did, my brain is tricked into thinking I’ve accomplished so much already, and my mind is awake to take on the day. This typically gets the ball rolling onto the next healthy habit.
2) Two Minutes of Deep Breathing - I began deep breathing with a method called Box Breathing. It was super challenging for me to even draw a deep breath at the beginning, much less hold the exhale which the technique requires. But I committed to attempting 2-3 minutes of box breathing daily for a few weeks. Within just a few days I felt my belly able to expand and actually breathe deeply for the first time in what felt like years! I carried this breathing into my walks, yoga, and workouts. I felt a noticeable difference in my shorter, sprint-like workouts as if I was actually in control of my body! Just a couple of minutes a day genuinely helped me feel stronger in my bracing, more capable of attacking hard workouts, and much more present in the moment.
3) No TV at Breakfast - This is the only habit I am mentioning that I had to break, and it was rooted in my quest to fight anxiety. I didn’t know this was a habit or even an “issue” until I dared to go without it. I remember for years I ate breakfast while reading or in silence. But when I lived with my sister, we, without fail, would enjoy our breakfast while watching The Office or Frasier, or at any point in the year, a Christmas movie. These were some of my favorite memories, but over time I realized it was now a mindless habit for me to find the remote as soon as I sat down for breakfast. Again, I wouldn’t consider this a major issue, but as I challenged myself to embrace the silence first thing in the morning, I began to feel less cluttered, rushed, and much less distracted. I could then do whatever I needed to start my day, whether that was sitting and thinking, practicing being present or moving on to my first task for the day. I don’t think one 20-minute episode of comedy in the mornings is a bad thing, but I’ve gained more freedom by breaking this habit and experienced the power of choosing how to start each day.
4) Go on Walks - This one seems like a given in 2020. I am sure I’m not the only person to have found taking walks as the savior of this year. As soon as I rescued my dog, this became a mandatory habit for me. But it took a while for this to become something I thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, it’s much easier to go on walks in beautiful South Florida where it doesn’t drop below 50 degrees or spray me with freezing rain, than in other areas of the country. Regardless of location, there is something very healing and peaceful about just walking in the outdoors. I grew up as a runner and foolishly thought walking was a waste of time. However, once I started to only run during my workouts and take the time outside of the gym to move slowly and with intention, I was able to think clearly, enjoy the sounds of nature and start a not-weird habit of chatting with my dog. I began with at least two 10 minute walks a day, and now I can easily enjoy two hours of slow walking and feel extremely fulfilled afterward. If you have a weight vest or want to load down a heavy backpack on your walks, it might help you feel like it’s more of a workout if that’s important to you. But you also might get odd looks and have to be okay with that as well.
*And if you need to borrow my dog for your walks, hit me up!
5) Just Take Class - This is perhaps my favorite habit of 2020! What I mean by “just take class” is pretty much our motto of “just show up.” I went through a couple of years of training really hard, for long hours, and very much solo. Something shifted this year where I realized how much I missed working out with friends and how much healthier and happier I felt with putting in all of my effort for just one hour of class. I let go of my performance expectations, and it became exciting to see what all I could pack into an hour. It also was mentally freeing for me to let a coach lead me and tell me what to do rather than figuring out things on my own. As much as I love thinking about and talking about working out (obviously it’s an obsession), I saw other priorities take shape in my life that were much more fulfilling than working on snatch technique multiple times a week. Maybe my progress has slowed down in some areas, but I genuinely look forward to the best hour of my day just like the other athletes in our community! It took some ego-checking and I had to trust my coaches, but letting go of my fitness as my identity was the biggest benefit from this habit.
Not only do I feel much free, decluttered, and less distracted (did I mention free!?), but I feel like I was able to take control of my year, regardless of the chaos around me. Even if I carry just one of these habits into the new year, I know that I’ll enter as a much stronger person after coming out of a very refining year. Give one or more of these a shot, and we’d love to hear how it’s benefiting your mindset and your approach to this next season.
Happy New Year!