VCU HR Well-Being blog

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There’s power in reflecting on the new habits we’ve adopted since last year.

By Marina Khidekel, Chief Content Officer at Thrive Global

A recent New York Times compiled a list of healthy habits that writers and researchers recommended in the past year — from new exercise routines to creative meditation techniques. And as we reflect on 2021 and prepare for the new year ahead, there’s power in taking a moment to look back at the positive habits we adopted this year, and how they impacted our perspectives, our relationships, and our overall well-being.

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the new positive habits they took on this year. Which of these habits do you want to take on in 2022?

Writing down weekly goals

“I adopted the habit of writing out my weekly goals every Sunday. I also write down my balance benchmarks (gym time, hair mask, face mask)  in a journal to ensure that I am productive while preserving mental recharge time without interruptions. Without writing these out, I am unable to make sound business decisions, let alone be productive at work. Writing out both the productivity goals and balance benchmarks stops me from scattering my mental energy.”

—Karisa Karmali, personal trainer and nutrition coach, Ontario, Canada

Making time for a daily meditation 

“I have been a doer all my life. What more can I do? What is the next project? What more can I learn? ‘Being’ does not come naturally to me. But this year, I developed a practice of mindfulness and meditation that allowed me to ‘be’ a little more. I now have a constant habit of taking a mindful deep breath many times a day and also meditating regularly for 10 minutes in the morning and again at the end of the day. This practice has made me resilient to the changing conditions that prevail around me and attuned with my true self.”

—Utkarsh Narang, executive coach and founder, New Delhi, India

Finding movement that feels good

“I have always been a keen short distance runner and used to find that pounding the pavement was a great stress reliever — but as I head towards 50, I’ve started to feel that the running was becoming more of a chore and that my body was taking longer to recover after each run. So I listened to my body and decided to swap my three weekly runs with daily 5K walks with my two dogs. The impact that this has had has been profound. I feel stronger in my body, more connected to nature, and enjoying the thinking time that allows me to be fully present and attentive without any distractions.”

—Candice Tomlinson, coach and hypnotherapist, Sydney, Australia

Reading more

“I rediscovered my love of books this year! Most of 2020, and admittedly for a while beforehand, I had lost my enthusiasm for reading. This year, however, I found that love again and have that familiar pull towards books again. My reading habits have increased and I hope that continues into next year. It relaxes me and gives me joy to love reading again.”

—Nicole Pyles, writer, Portland, OR

Keeping a gratitude journal

“I started a gratitude journal this year. I simply listed ten things each day that brought me joy, from a simple breath to the wonders of travel. I didn’t beat myself up about it if I missed a day, but I kept the journal by my bedside with a pen right next to it to make the practice even more enticing. It allowed me to end each day with a sense of peace and head to sleep filled with renewed energy.”

—Henna Garrison, mindset coach, Sicily, Italy 

Incorporating intermittent fasting

“This year, I adopted the habit of intermittent fasting. I do it once or twice a month to help my gut reset. I notice the benefits within hours, and it also gives me mental clarity.”

—Kristin Meekhof, book consultant and life coach, Royal Oak, MI 

Trying new virtual workouts

“This year, I loved indulging in the joy of working out at home with boundless access to dance, yoga, Pilates, and weight training gurus and classes. The community and apps of online workouts all made it so fun. Reinventing this part of my life has given me a broader range of instructors, classes, workouts, and the freedom to enjoy the variety and mix it up. As an extension, practicing better breathing techniques has become an incredible way to manage stress, and juggle a lot of business priorities and has served me and those around me very well. It’s definitely the best positive habit I adopted in the last year.”

—Kathi Sharpe-Ross, marketing agency CEO, author, podcast host, Beverly Hills, CA

Checking in on others

“I love receiving a well-thought-out love note much more than a physical gift. I see the impact of words when I’m teaching as well, or hanging out with my family, as words of kindness light up everyone’s eyes. Words matter. So, this year, I made a decision to bring more kindness into the world by taking action. Whenever I heard a family member, friend or colleague say they had something exciting, scary, difficult, or celebratory coming up, I’d whip out my phone and send myself a reminder to text them on that day. They loved the fact that I remembered them, and I loved being there more deeply for those around me. Letting somebody know you are thinking about them, holding them in your heart, and sending up love and prayers, is powerful.”

—Laura DeKraker Lang-Ree, educator, Los Gatos, CA

Hosting writing workshops

“This year, I committed to hosting a virtual free-writing practice group called Write Now Mind. Participants agree to practice writing to a prompt for ten minutes per week. We share our responses anonymously. We are supportive and encouraging. The result has been a profound community of writing and awareness practitioners sharing their authentic selves. I would not have thought it possible for a group of virtual strangers to create a sense of community in just ten minutes per week (without Zoom!), but we have. The practice has become a cornerstone in my life and the life of many of the participants. We are happier, kinder, and more self-loving.”

—Marijke McCandless, writer, workshop leader, speaker, San Diego, CA

Spending tech-free time with loved ones

“This year, I’ve focused on enjoying simple things with loved ones, such as having a meal together or traveling to a different place. I do a digital detox by putting the phone away for some time and spending valuable time with siblings and friends to create meaningful connections. I love watching a movie with loved ones and exploring different cuisines to make them happy, and connecting with friends by having a get-together with valuable discussions.”

—Archana Kini, psychotherapist 

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