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A Guide To Everything You Need For A Mental And Physical Health Refresh In The New Year

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A Guide To Everything You Need For A Mental And Physical Health Refresh In The New Year

  • If the idea of developing a New Year's resolution for 2021 gives you pause, you aren't alone, but it's reasonable to desire some sort of refresher as we move into the new year.

  • Be it through learning to meditate, listening to podcasts dedicated to mental health, revitalizing your fitness routine, or creating more calm in your home, there are plenty of ways to support a new year's intentions.

  • To help, we've compiled the following list of every story we wrote this past year that can contribute to helping you improve your mental and physical health in 2021.

As we cope with the start of 2021, it's natural to lack the inspiration needed to develop a typical resolution. Some may not have the emotional bandwidth required to tackle an overly ambitious goal while others are likely to avoid entertaining the idea of something they'll lose interest in in a few weeks. Whatever the reason, you aren't alone — 2020 was heavy for a growing list of reasons that aren't going away anytime soon.

But you don't need to completely write off making positive intentions for the coming year. From improving your mental health and developing a new workout plan to reorganizing your home or changing up your diet, there are a number of ways you can support healthy growth in 2021 without feeling the burden of a typical resolution — and we're here to help.

Throughout 2020, we explored a variety of ways to foster self-improvement and self-betterment via research, expert interviews, and doctor insight to help inform our coverage. Whether it was a guide on how to start meditating, a round-up of the best online classes that teach you how to be happier, or a collection of the best free at-home workouts, we worked to provide a wide-reaching selection of resources that could benefit anyone.

So, in lieu of a typical New Year's resolution, consider these positive intentions and coping tools instead. Perhaps you want to start a new workout routine or like the idea of creating a bit more calm around your home. Maybe you're searching for ways to cope with anxiety and stress or want to find a reliable method for getting better sleep at night. Whatever the support is that you need, we've got you covered.

Below, you'll find a running list of all the essential articles we published this past year that can help you recharge and refresh in 2021 and beyond.

Mental Health

Zdenka Darula/Shutterstock

For those who struggle with anxiety or depression, prioritizing mental health has always been important. But the past year has arguably made it clearer to everyone just how crucial normalization, positive coping mechanisms, and access to treatment truly is.

Whether you're dealing with newfound pandemic anxieties, loneliness, or working with a long-standing mood disorder, it's important to remember that mental health management is far from one-size-fits-all. Below, we've outlined many coping strategies that science and mental health experts (as well as the Insider Reviews team and our readers) find to be helpful in lessening depressive symptoms, alleviating in-the-moment anxiety, and generally feeling less alone with whatever struggles you might have.

While things like meditation and journaling are accessible and effective strategies for coping, some people may need or want more formal mental health treatment — and it will likely take some trial-and-error to find what works for you. We've provided some advice on finding a therapist but Insider's Health Reference Library also includes many medically-reviewed resources on identifying and treating various mental health conditions.

-- Emily Hein, story producer for Insider Reviews

Coping tools and strategies

  • 10 online courses that teach you how to be happier — most are free and taught by Ivy League universities

  • The professor behind Yale's popular online course, The Science of Well-Being, shares tips on how to feel happier right now

  • How to meditate: A beginner's guide to meditation and mindfulness

  • The best meditation apps to help lower stress and manage anxiety

  • 10 podcasts your mental health deserves

  • How to create more calm in your home

  • The best journals for processing and managing anxiety, and how they can be a positive coping mechanism

  • 20 best planners for staying organized in 2021, including tips and tricks from experts

  • How to take a break from social media

  • How to deal with uncertainty

  • Is happiness genetic?

  • Quiz: Am I depressed?

  • How to increase serotonin

  • How to increase dopamine

Finding professional help

  • How to find a therapist virtually for the first time

  • The best online therapy providers


Nitat Termmee/Getty Images

The start of a new year often brings with it the promise of refocusing how you keep fit, be it via a new gym membership, an email out to a personal trainer, or a self-made goal to run a certain number of miles or train for a race. But this year is anything but ordinary — gyms and fitness centers should be avoided, personal training sessions are conducted via Zoom, and we've wrestled with developing and maintaining a decent at-home fitness routine since last March.

Needless to say, it's natural to have experienced waning motivation at some point this past year. But don't view January 1 as some sort of end-all-be-all for finding the enthusiasm to break a sweat — that sentiment is true every year but doubly so in 2021.

Instead, lean on what you're comfortable and familiar with, take advantage of free trials of fitness apps, and, most importantly, go at a manageable pace that allows you to develop a healthy habit. And if you're just starting out, take it slow, and don't be discouraged if it ends up being harder than you expected.

To spark some inspiration and help avoid the typical guesswork that comes along with establishing a new workout plan, we've included a variety of guides and round-ups that cover everything from the best workout apps for beginners, why resistance bands are a better investment than dumbbells, and how to set up an affordable garage gym (and the equipment you need to do it). So, no matter your fitness level or experience, if you're looking to get moving in 2021, we have you covered.

--Rick Stella, health and fitness editor for Insider Reviews

Get started and keep going

  • Best workout apps for beginners

  • Best products to use to stay fit and healthy while spending more time inside

  • How to replicate the in-class experience in your living room

  • Why resistance bands are better than dumbbells

  • How to deal with an injury at home, according to sports medicine doctors

Try a new workout plan (or update your existing one)

  • The best workout apps

  • The best personal training apps

  • The best free at-home workouts, like Nike Training Club and FightCamp

  • How to replicate popular gym lifts at home

  • 12 popular health and fitness Udemy courses you can take at home, from yoga and Pilates to nutrition and mental health

  • The best workout equipment and exercises for small apartments, according to a fitness trainer

  • Best online yoga

  • How to workout with just a pair of socks

  • How often should you do cardio?

  • How often should you strength train?

  • HIIT workouts to do at home

  • When is the best time to workout?

Upgrade your home gym equipment or sport some new apparel

  • The best at-home fitness equipment

  • How to set up an affordable garage gym

  • 8 cleaning products an infectious disease doctor recommends for your home gym

  • The best cheap running shoes

  • The best face masks for running and working out

  • The best exercise bikes

  • The best running shoes for women

  • The best running shoes for men

  • The best Fitbit trackers and smartwatches for health and fitness

  • The best women's workout clothes

  • The best men's workout clothes


Blue Apron

The days of the "new year, new weight-loss diet" are long gone (thankfully), but after a holiday season of gobbling sugary treats and a year of soothing boredom with booze and baking, refreshing your eating habits goes a long way toward clearing your headspace.

Your stomach and brain are directly connected along the gut-brain axis, so ditching ultra-refined and inflammatory fare to focus on foods that make you feel energized, alert, and nourished can actually help you better focus on any new goals or intentions you have.

Below, you'll find everything from why detoxes are bad for you to the best meal kit and grocery delivery services. For some, weight loss and a change in diet is the right strategy to improve their health, so we've included ways to achieve that, healthily, as well.

--Rachael Schultz, health and fitness updates editor for Insider Reviews

Nutrition advice

  • Why detoxes are terrible for you, according to dietitians

  • 12 healthy alcohol-free mixers and bottled mocktails that actually taste good

  • How to get your diet back on the healthy track while working from home during the pandemic, according to nutrition experts

  • Post-workout meal: What to eat to properly recover, according to dietitians

  • Even chefs experience cooking burnout — here's how they get re-inspired in the kitchen

  • MasterClass offers online cooking classes with professional chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Thomas Keller — here are 11 of the best ones

  • 7 science-backed benefits of drinking water — and how much water you should drink each day

  • How to count macros for weight loss and why registered dietitians often consider it a better method than calorie counting

  • Cut back on meat for a week with this 7-day vegetarian meal plan recommended by a registered dietitian

  • Does intermittent fasting work? Research doesn't have a definite answer for its long-term effects

  • What to eat when intermittent fasting for health and hunger pains

  • Best food to eat before a workout

  • Best food to eat after a workout

Food and meal services that can help

  • The best pre-made meal delivery services

  • The best meal kit delivery services

  • Online grocery delivery services in NYC

  • Boxed online bulk shopping review

  • Amazon Subscribe & Save and Instacart review


Alyssa Powell/Business Insider

One positive thing 2020 taught us is an appreciation for having a healthy body — and how important it is to treat any underlying health conditions and prioritize the cleanest bill of health possible.

For some, this meant taking medication regularly, creating a new exercising routine, or changing their diet to improve their risk for heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Others focused on the small stuff, like sleep and daily movement, to keep their immune system optimized.

No matter where you're starting from, having a game plan of where you can improve your health will undoubtedly make 2021 a positive year for you.

--Rachael Schultz, health and fitness updates editor for Insider Reviews

  • How to get better sleep with anxiety or stress, in 5 different ways

  • 21 products and apps we swear by to fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, and wake up well-rested

  • How to balance your blood sugar levels by following this 7-day diabetic meal plan

  • How to eat red meat without jeopardizing your health, according to a heart surgeon

  • 7 common reasons why you're not losing weight and tips to help you shed stubborn pounds

  • The best exercises to manage diabetes and lower blood sugar

  • 13 dangerous things science has linked to heart disease

  • The 3 best types of exercise for heart health and how to create a heart-healthy workout plan

  • Benefits of reading

  • How to lose weight

  • How to lose visceral fat

  • Benefits of losing weight


Audrey Lee/Business Insider

Right now, home is more than where the heart is — it's where the restaurant, café, office, movie theater, school, daycare, and gym are. It's also where clutter and bad purchases can collect and become an eyesore.

Redecorating or cleaning your space won't take care of what's going on outside your windows but it'll at least give you some control and comfort — two things that greatly impact your mental wellbeing and general perspective on life.

For anyone who's feeling like their space could use a physical and mental deep clean and refresh, this one's for you.

--Jada Wong, senior editor for home and kitchen with Insider Reviews

Cleaning your home

  • 17 top-rated products to clean every room in your house

  • 11 natural cleaning brands that don't use harsh or harmful chemicals

  • The best bathroom cleaning products

  • How to disinfect every room in your house

Upgrading your space

  • How to create a calm room in your home

  • The best mattress

  • The best espresso machine

  • The best bed sheets

  • The best KitchenAid stand mixers

  • The best pillows

  • Pro Tips: How to level up your home-brewed coffee, according to the experts

Travel + Outdoors

Ryan Ariano/Business Insider

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most people's travel plans were upended in 2020. But people still found ways to vacation despite the ongoing pandemic: With safety in mind, many people opted for closer-to-home getaways within driving distance and booked private vacation rentals rather than hotels.

The biggest trends we saw in 2020 were taking work-cations — flexible long-term stays that mix work and play — as well as heading to remote destinations with easy access to nature and cozy cabin stays close to lakes and rivers.

These all look like they're sticking around for 2021, too — and they should: Traveling may seem indulgent but really, it's tied to mental health, making it especially important right now, pediatric psychologist Dr. Ann-Louise Lockhart, PsyD, highlighted in a recent Vrbo news release.

She touted the importance of getting out of your house, even if it's just for a short trip, saying, "Any change of scenery makes a difference that can help support families and kids and their mental health."

Even those without kids can reap the benefits a change of scenery has on their mental health. And with vaccines beginning to roll out, there's hope on the horizon. When looking at ways to bolster your mental health in 2021, planning a close-to-home getaway or a full bucket-list trip to take later can give you something to look forward to.

--Hannah Freedman, associate travel editor for Insider Reviews

How to plan

  • 6 safer, expert-backed ways to take a vacation during the pandemic, from road trips to private vacation rentals and remote campsites

  • 7 tips from travel writers on how to plan safe vacations during a pandemic

  • 6 tips for planning travel in 2021, according to travel experts, infectious disease doctors, and current industry trends

  • 6 tips for booking a vacation rental, and where to search if Airbnb is booked or too expensive

  • Is skiing safe right now? Here are the risk factors to weigh and precautions to take, according to an infectious disease doctor and ski resort representative.

  • I used Tentrr to book a private, secluded glampsite for a remote getaway — here's how the platform works and why I'll gladly be using it again

  • The best way to road trip across America and stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

Where to go

  • 18 brand-new US hotels to add to your 2021 bucket list, including an all-inclusive adventure lodge and Napa Valley's first resort set on a working winery

  • 10 of the best off-season hotel deals to take advantage of this fall and winter

  • The best US mountain resorts for all seasons

  • 6 top road trips in the US and where to stay along the way

  • The best road trips from 10 major US cities that will make you feel like you're in a whole different world

  • The best ski hotels in the US

What to bring and do

  • The best snowshoes

  • The best RV mattresses for long road trips

  • Socially distanced attractions and activities for a road trip across the Pacific Northwest that are actually worth the stop

  • The best ski gear for resort riding this winter

  • The best snow sleds

  • 12 cool snow toys for kids of all ages



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