A health revolution:

focusing on our long-term health goals, in 2021 and beyond

Healthy Living > Community > A health revolution: focusing on our long-term health goals, in 2021 and beyond

Blog article | By Simplyhealth 24 February 2021

Catherine Rutland, Clinical Director at Simplyhealth and Jo Hemmings, behavioural psychologist

Events over the past year have changed our psychological mindsets. The behaviours that we previously took for granted – hugging family and friends or living our usual social life – have become things that we have missed, learned to cherish and look forward to again.

We have also experienced a myriad of emotions, from fear, anxiety, despair and loneliness to hope, positivity and resilience. In the face of unprecedented challenges, we as a nation have broadened our perspective. Many of us are much less inward looking now than we were 12 months ago, which has in turn, impacted our personal goals. 

Catherine Rutland, Clinical Director at Simplyhealth

A nation inspired to take better care of its health

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to shine a spotlight on the NHS; the sheer importance of front-line workers, the dangers they face and sacrifices they make on a daily basis, and now how incredibly they are rolling out our national vaccination programme. As such, we have a much greater appreciation of the scale and the challenges of our NHS, an organisation that many of us took for granted until early last year.

As our understanding of the demands on the NHS has evolved, so has our compassion for and kindness towards those suffering more than most, whether financially, physically or psychologically. Looking inwards, having experienced life under restrictive rules and regulations imposed upon us, self-centred goals are now perceived as yet another further and relatively unimportant self-imposed rule. Now, our goals are more likely to be focused on what we can do for others, rather than just what we can do for ourselves.

As a result, we are now gravitating towards more altruistic goals, whereby achieving them will have a positive impact on others. We have also witnessed a greater awareness of the impact our personal health has on the NHS and wider society as a whole. Research from Simplyhealth1 found that 1 in 5 (19%) Brits admit the wider societal and financial impact of the pandemic encouraged them to take better care of their health and lifestyle, which prompted 30 million Brits to commit to at least one health-related New Year’s Resolution in 2021 to “do their bit” for their health, their community and the NHS.

2021 and beyond: Brits focus on long-term health goals

By focusing on our long-term health goals, individuals become more resilient and more prepared should we ever have to face such a health crisis again.

Looking at small ways in which we can change our lifestyle for the better will translate into a huge difference to our overall well-being and our ability to support and help others. Focusing on making small changes, rather than committing to more demanding ones, will also help make the prospect of maintaining goals less daunting and appear easier to achieve. Keeping a healthy fitness level not only releases mood boosting endorphins into our brains, but it also helps us regulate the stress hormones adrenalin and cortisol, which may have been raging through our bodies for almost a year. Furthermore, keeping fit and healthy not only boosts our immune systems, but means that we are mentally better equipped to help others – from individuals to the NHS as a whole.

It is encouraging to see many Brits committed to setting truly attainable health goals moving forwards. As we know, setting realistic intentions is the key to sticking to your goals and establishing healthy habits, as in 2020, a third (32%) of individuals had given up on their New Year’s Resolutions by the end of March4. In 2021 we have the chance to be part of a health revolution; we recognise forming new habits can be challenging, so here are some helpful tips to keep to better health habits.

Jo Hemmings, Behavioural Psychologist

Jo Hemmings, Behavioural Psychologist, shares her five top tips for keeping health resolutions:

  1. Adapt your exercise routine: With lockdown restrictions still in place, we have to be more opportunistic about our exercise routine, which may need to be adjusted to reflect our inclement weather. Have other alternatives from the usual run and cycle session to hand, such as fitness videos, a piece of home gym equipment or simply running up and down the stairs as many times as you can manage and using tins of food as hand weights.

  2. Support local food markets: You may not want to visit food shops any more than is absolutely necessary and supermarket delivery slots can be difficult to book.  Try visiting your local farmer’s market instead, usually held on a weekend, where you can buy fresh, healthy and local British produce, which provides them with much-needed income, while keeping yourself much safer in the open air.

  3. Swap ready meals for home cooking: If you have been reliant on ready meals, using the freezer or getting takeaways, resolve to cook more. It doesn’t have to be complicated, expensive or time consuming – in fact for some people, just the recipe reading, prepping and cooking process can be a relaxation and a distraction in itself. There are so many quick, cheap and healthy recipes out there – from one pot cooking to stir frying in a wok, all of which are delicious and healthy options.

  4. Don’t neglect your mental health: Health is not all about the body either. There are many relaxation techniques from meditation to breathing exercises, that will help distract and calm you from the COVID chaos around us. Read or listen to an audio book, go through old photos or simply indulge in a long bath. Resolve to concentrate on self-care and find the best methods that work for you.

  5. The benefits of volunteering: Whether in a formal way, such as taking on an admin role at your local vaccination centre or having a regular phone call with those living alone or who are vulnerable in your community. This will stimulate the reward centre in your brain, triggering serotonin and dopamine, two of the brain’s neurotransmitters which contribute to satisfaction and well-being. And your help will be much appreciated by those that need it, so it’s a definite win-win resolution health wise.


2020 reinvented our relationship with our personal health. As a result, 2021 is a unique chance to make real and lasting changes to our health and wellbeing. We believe this year will see a shift in attitudes and behaviours and is the year to learn more about our physical and mental health. By making small changes such as Jo’s top five tips, they can contribute to longer term positive health changes.

- Catherine Rutland, Clinical Director at Simplyhealth


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1 Data used is based on a survey, conducted online by the healthcare research company, Opinion Health, amongst 2,000 people between 09.12.2020 and 16.12.2020. Data was weighted to be nationally representative of the British population aged 18 and over with a confidence interval of 2%. The survey explored 2020 and 2021 New Year’s Resolutions, how they have been impacted by COVID-19, and how people’s attitudes to their health and the healthcare systems have changed over the past year. The survey was commissioned by healthcare plan provider, Simplyhealth. 2Ibid.