What I've Learned About Fitness, Friendships, And Living Successfully In Your 20s

November 24, 2020

Your 20s can be that awkward time when you’re finishing education, navigating through the world of work and working hard to maintain or find new friendships. It’s also a time when it can be ‘make or break’ in terms of keeping up a sustainable fitness routine. Now nearing the end of my twenties, here’s what I learned about maintaining an active, social, and healthy lifestyle during your 20s.

Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things

Stepping away from what’s comfortable, although sometimes daunting, can be very refreshing as you may discover something new that you love. It’s also a chance to meet new people and form new friendships. When we’re in school we often make friends with people who live in our hometown or because we’ve chosen the same course. Over the years, I have found my friendships with school friends have soon fizzled out once we’ve graduated and learned that actually, we didn’t have too much in common. Friendships I have made through a hobby, however, have been much more long-lasting and genuine.

During my twenties I have taken up many new hobbies from rollerskating to slacklining. I have met so many new people and have formed some really beautiful friendships. I can definitely say that I wouldn’t have many of the friends I have today if I had played it safe and stuck to what I knew. Trying new things from sports to food has opened up great opportunities and experiences.

Making active plans with your friends

Meeting up with friends doesn’t always have to involve watching movies, eating pizza, or dining out. Although they’re definitely great activities to do once in a while, it’s also important to make active plans with friends too. These active plans don’t have to be anything crazy. Maybe you’re not the sportiest person and don’t fancy extreme sports; I don’t blame you! Making active plans with your friends can be something more chill like going for a long walk or cycle ride. If you are into adrenaline sports or you’re up for trying them then that’s great too!

I personally love to combine sport with social outings. Whether it’s snowboarding in the winter with a few close friends or just hanging out by the beach slacklining with a big group (pre-COVID-19 of course). I enjoy downtime with friends too, but sometimes I find that unhealthy habits can soon form if active plans slip under the radar.


Saying yes more

If you’ve got a lot of work on or enjoy chilling at home watching Netflix, it can be easy to say no and miss out on great opportunities. Much like stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things, saying yes more can help you to discover and explore new activities as well as meet new people.

This year I made the decision to say yes more often. Despite the global pandemic, I have been able to take part in amazing experiences and expand my friendship groups. From virtual events to day trips with a few friends, I have enjoyed saying yes to a whole new host of things like skateboarding and hiking.

Setting goals

Setting weekly or monthly goals can be a great help when it comes to making sure your fitness and social plans are sustainable. Once you find what works for you and what you love doing, maintaining a routine can be hard with work or lockdowns getting in the way. Setting goals and being open-minded and versatile with your plans can help you to keep up your healthy and social lifestyle no matter what life throws at you.

I have found that setting goals are a great way for me to keep in check with my fitness routine as well as keeping in touch with friends and family. Each month I work towards organizing a couple of days/evenings to spend with friends and I also work hard to tick a few activities off my list. When I am short on time, I try to combine the two.

Establishing a healthy work-life balance

If you have a busy job or a hectic social life, it can often be hard to juggle the two. Setting clear boundaries and pockets of time can help you find a balance when it comes to establishing a healthy work-life balance. Especially during these times when many of us are working from home.

Over the last few months, I have found myself struggling with this one until I set a daily routine/structure. As I moved away from home in the U.K., I found myself calling my friends in the week, doing odd chores around the house and scheduling Zoom quizzes left, right and center. Now I am stricter with myself and my routine and so I work between certain hours, leave the chores until after work and schedule time with friends bearing in mind that I also need to take time for myself.


Enjoying some downtime

Juggling work, a social life and a fitness routine can often lead to burnout. It is really important to take time out for yourself and to also recognize when you’re hitting your max. You’re not going to be great company if you’re exhausted and you’re definitely not going to enjoy working out if you’re tired. Factoring in downtime into your week is a must.

Now, this I am good at. I am one of those people who loves to be busy 24/7 and I often overwhelm myself with plans and things to do. It’s taken me years to work out when I am about to hit burnout and that it’s okay to take time for myself. During my downtime, I often meditate, practice yoga, or write in my journal.

Doing everything in moderation

Following on from the last point, not only is it important to take time for yourself but it is also important to do everything in moderation. Take time to take a step back and analyze your week or month. Are you working crazy hours? Is your fitness routine unachievable? Whatever you find, make tweaks to your schedule so you can enjoy your time spent at work, at the gym or at home.

I have often found that if I am working too much, or have too many plans with friends, my fitness goals take a back seat. I have learnt how important it is to establish a balance between social/family plans, work, working out, and taking time for myself. Without that balance, I easily get thrown off track.

Doing what you enjoy more often

And finally, do what you love. Working out doesn’t have to involve going to the gym. It can be playing volleyball or going rock climbing. The same can be said for making plans with friends. If you’re not up for going to the movies, it’s ok to say no and to suggest something else for next time.

During my 20s, I have learned a lot about myself, what routine works for me and what I enjoy doing. I have found that I excel most when I am passionate about what I am doing or when I have a good balance. Your 20s can be a tough time juggling lots of new things but it can also be a beautiful time. Set yourself up for success by surrounding yourself with great friendships, take on new hobbies and establish a healthy work-life balance.

Also by Anna: Your Guide To Responsible Travel During The Pandemic

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Photos: Anna Ashbarry

Anna Ashbarry
Anna is a Communications and Outreach Manager at Dyslexia Canada and works in a freelance capacity as an activist, photographer and writer. Anna uses various media forms to raise awareness of issues whilst seeking social justice. With a passion for human rights and international development, Anna has worked as a Youth Reporter in Nepal and continues to explore her interest in communications in order to help provide platforms for voices to be heard. Follow Anna on Instagram @annaashbarry


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