Y’all, can we just not with all the bullsh*t in 2020? No more diarrhea detox teas, no more workouts that make us faint, no more people who are bad for us. Just self-love, pleasure, yummy food, and love for each other. Here are 8 ways to actually improve your health in the new decade:
1. Improve the company you keep
This is number one on our list because it has such a huge effect on our day to day happiness and our ability to reach our long-term goals. So here it is: stop having sex with people who make you feel bad! And while you’re at it, stop spending any kind of time or energy on people who aren’t moving you forward. Spending less (or preferably no) time with chumps will mean you have time to invest in your important, mutually-satisfying relationships.
2. Work on your mental health
Mental health is health. If something you’re doing to “improve” your “health” is costing you in terms of mental health, then it’s not actually improving your health, is it? Mental health is a lifelong project if you’re doing it right, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do small things to work on it every day. Taking time to reflect, journaling, practicing breathing exercises, and starting a regular practice of going to therapy are all ways you can commit to your mental health this year.
Check out Psychology Today’s database of therapists, where you can search by specialization, type of therapy, therapist’s gender, and more. If therapy feels out of reach because of cost, check out potential therapists’ Psychology Today listings to see if they offer a sliding scale, which means they may be able to charge you a lower price depending on your income.
3. Find a health care provider you like
We’re not going to say it’s easy to find a great provider, because it’s not. But it is possible. And it’s one of the best things you can do for your health. Also—great news—we can help. Read up on how to tell when it’s time to switch providers and how to advocate for yourself at the provider’s office, including some suggested language for your first meeting with a provider. Then check out our clinic finder to find a provider near you.
4. Prioritize pleasure
Don’t wait for a partner to give you pleasure. Make pleasure part of your self-care. That could mean reading a book before bed, lighting a candle, taking a hot shower when you’re stressed, masturbating, taking a nap after work, having your favorite food—whatever brings YOU pleasure. If sexual pleasure is what’s up for you, let 2020 be the year that you invest in a new toy, buy some good lube, perfect your masturbation technique (here are some tips for people with vaginas and for people with penises), or start scheduling sex with yourself.
5. Get tested for STIs and get a Pap smear
Anyone who’s had a yeast infection knows that sexual health can have a major impact on pleasure. So as part of prioritizing your pleasure this year, prioritize your sexual health. That means getting checked out if anything feels off. But even if you’re not having symptoms, it’s a good idea to get tested for STIs once a year or whenever you have a new sexual partner. And if it’s been a while since you’ve had a Pap smear, talk to your provider about whether it’s time to get one. If you’ve only had normal Pap smears in the past, you probably only need to get them every 3 years until you’re 30.
6. Prioritize things other than how you look
First of all, there’s nothing wrong with the way you look. You don’t need to change anything about your appearance. Don’t let multi-million-dollar marketing campaigns trick you into thinking that you do. Or that you need to change the way you look to improve your health. Your health and your appearance have nothing to do with each other. If you’re restricting your eating or using exercise as a form of self-harm, look for a therapist with experience using a Health At Every Size (HAES) approach to treating eating disorders.
Also, for the love of Pete, don’t spend your precious money on “detoxes” (which btw are just thinly veiled weight-loss products). That’s what your liver and kidneys are there for. Their literal full-time job is to detox. If your liver or kidneys need help, please get medical attention, not juice. Save your money for sex toys and vacations.
7. Practice vulnerability
It’s sooooo much easier to text in all caps or just sweep things under the rug than it is to sit down with someone and say “my feelings are hurt.” Vulnerability may feel really exposing and uncomfortable, but it’s a key part of living an honest, authentic life. It also paves the way for deeper, healthier relationships. And, perhaps most importantly, better sex.
8. Switch birth control methods if yours isn’t working for you
Your method shouldn’t be uncomfortable for you, physically or otherwise. If you don’t feel like you’re adequately protected, if you’re having side effects that aren’t going away and are bothering you, or if the way your method works just isn’t working for your life as it is right now, it’s time to think about switching. Just because you went on the pill in college doesn’t mean the pill is still the best method for you. Maybe you’re working irregular hours now and can’t remember to take it every day. Or maybe you have multiple partners and want to make sure you’re getting STI protection as well as pregnancy prevention. Check out our method explorer to find a method that meets whatever your criteria are right now.
Here’s to a joyful, peaceful, pleasure-filled new decade. You deserve it.
P.S. How many of last year’s resolutions did you keep?